Album Review: Nat Baldwin – In the Hollows

Nat-Baldwin-In-The-HollowsNat Baldwin’s upcoming release, In the Hollows, is an avant-garde approach to the man meets acoustic tradition. The album remains saturated with emotional depth, but instead of concentrating all his sound into one genre, Baldwin encompasses many, creating a musical fusion that settles in perfect agreement. Jazz, contemporary, classical, progressive pop—there’s a homeostasis that Baldwin reaches as he brings them all together. Baldwin plays string bass and pulls his classical origins from studying under famed jazz musician Anthony Braxton. In the Hollows is the fourth solo EP project for Baldwin and a follow-up effort to his well-received 2011 album, People Changes. In the interim, Baldwin has stayed quite busy. He remains bassist for The Dirty Projectors and has worked in conjunction with various artists including Vampire Weekend.

Baldwin’s vocal approach is similar to his musical co-conspirator David Longstreth of The Dirty Projectors, but credit could be extended a step further to Jeff Buckley, who shares exceptional vocal range and frequented falsetto pitch. The accompanying instrumention of the album could easily be excluded and the a cappella that remains is a beautifully harmonized piece of music that could stand strongly on its own. Baldwin’s vocals are controlled and performed just as precisely as the bow on his strings. There are points when the lyrics fade into the mix, and the strings are so reflective and complementary that the two become indistinguishable.

You don’t have to rely on the music to pick up on the tone Baldwin has set for his album, as the track titles serve as strong indicators. Wasted, Half My Life, Bored to Death, A Good Day To Die all seem to fit the same aesthetic that the music delivers. Title track In the Hollows and Cosmos Pose are as close to pop as Baldwin ventures. They both are set to quicker pace than any of the seven songs. The End of the Night is a raw and brave presentation of Baldwin and his vocal ability. Only the occasional string plucking for accompaniment, he presents himself in complete simplicity. Half My Life and the title track stand out as two of the record’s best and follow one another in track order.

This album was made to embody the mundane, melancholy days of gloom when your eyes get misty and your heart aches thinking of someone or someplace. These tunes are meant to act as the soundtrack to your life when internal contemplation and soul searching are most prevalent. It is a record that exists for those times that seem to exist between anything at all, some vacant yet beautiful nowhere land in the hollows.

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