Nat Lyon: Small Victory On A Fallow Field – album review

Nat Lyon – Small Victory On A Fallow Field
DL/CD
28 February 2014

8.5/10

Connecticut based, punk / folk artist Nat Lyon releases his new album. Louder Than War’s Paul Scott-Bates reviews.

Despite having second thoughts about being termed a DIY artist, Nat Lyon has followed up last year’s New England Paradigm Shift album with another only six months later, one that sees the evolution of his sound go one step further. If the tracks on Small Victory On A Fallow Field are to be applauded then the 100 home-made hand-painted CD covers that accompany it deserve an encore.

Such was Nats creative flow at the time of his last album that he carried on writing straight through for this new collection. There’s an altogether mellower feel to his new stuff. The slightly off-key moments are still present, as are the unplanned sounds of people in his kitchen or dogs barking, and it is these anomalies that form many of the delights of the album. It’s overflowing in passion and brutal honesty.

Lyrically, Small Victory carries on where New England left off. Based on true observations and an overactive mind, they are again compelling. Often not rhyming, often clumsy, they are perfect in their imperfections.

Nat has enlisted the help of several partners from various countries, e.g. America, Germany and Britain, to enhance the sound to good effect. CH, the tale of the suicidal school teacher, is a dark as Nat gets – it’s simple and slightly scary with its echoed, dubbed out finale and creaking floorboards. He sees this album as one of his “most challenging creative pieces” and it’s difficult not to agree.

Landseer Frequency is avant garde ambience which has spoken voices added over a gripping backing simpleness. The album then explodes into its highlight track, CHARLIE!, which harks back to Nats punk roots with two minutes of big noise and random vocals.

There’s a more settled approach to Small Victory. Despite its often ad hoc inclusions it continues to surprise. Part acoustic, part electronic and much sampled, its tales and inherent characters instill intrigue and mystery. Splitting the album title into tracks A Small Victory and its follow up On A Fallow Field gives an inkling to Nat’s thought process. The former’s a sleepy acoustic instrumental, the later a full-on pop ramble.

Coming a long way since his last album Nat is already working on his next. An artist clearly overflowing with ideas and entertaining ones at that. Closing with the hypnotic Western Fiction and the sound bite “stars are coming out” the album is fifteen tracks of well-constructed songs which are difficult to slot into any genre. A clever artist and an incredibly entertaining album.

~

The Nat Lyon website is here. You can follow him on Twitter here and Fakebook here.

A remix version of the album entitled This Is Not The Map came out on 28 February. It’s available as a free download here.

All words by Paul Scott-Bates. More of Paul’s writing on Louder Than War can be found here. Paul’s website is hiapop Blog. Paul is working hard to save Radio Lancashire’s On The Wire, the BBCs longest running alternative music programme. Follow him on twitter as @saveonthewire for all On The Wire news or follow hiapop Blog on Twitter, @hiapop.

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