The Madman And The Poet

The Madman And The Poet

1600 1600 Nate Currin

A MADMAN’S REDEMPTION CALL

 

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NATE CURRIN
The Madman And The Poet
12 Tracks / 45 Minutes

Review by Jason Ramsey

The nights run long, a sprawling sky of moonlit darkness, and mile markers tick by like ghosts from the past. The thick, sticky air of the south, from Georgia to Louisiana and back again, weigh heavy on the soul. The brown and red hues of the Arizona desert, the stark open roads of the southwest, stifle lungs with dry heat. The pomp and circumstance of Hollywood, laid deep in dive bars of almost-haves, toil with the longings of what could have been. The rainy days of the northwest, wetlands from Portland to Seattle, dampen contentment, lowlights for reflections on heaven and hell. This is the soundtrack for summer night drives, for broken hearts, for lonely souls. For drifters and lamenters, for those whose minds wrestle with the Devil and the Holy Ghost. And for the waywards who search for faith that was lost somewhere along the way.natecurrin7

Nate Currin is an homage to troubadours of the past, folks like Bob Seger and Neil Young, road-weary vets with life-lined eyes and stories for miles. A few years ago, he abandoned his home in San Francisco to live full-time on the road in his RV, and has logged over a million miles across the American landscape over the last decade. His stops are usually local bars, clubs, halls, and an occasional church that’s audacious enough to house his secular sound. The son of a strict Baptist minister, Nate internalizes his role as a Christian musician. In fact, like many, he has shied away from being labeled as a Christian artist for the last six or seven years, and he doesn’t consider himself one in the traditional sense. There’s a difference between being a Christian artist and an artist who is Christian. But the difference is much smaller than most think.

Nate’s brand of Christianity lies in what he calls the “sporadic lyric or a post-show conversation at the merch table”. But the truth is, at least for a believer, that his lyrics are rife with the Christian¬†message: light and darkness, sin and forgiveness, mercy and redemption, faith triumphs and struggles. His words aren’t simply poetic — they’re poetry in every sense. They’re heavy, metaphorical, figurative. And they’re brutally honest. They minister without being suffocating. They make you think without yielding to an ounce of cliche. Regarding his message, Nate says,

I do think most people “get it”. They know that I am a believer. But if it’s good art, it usually rises above those issues and non-believers have less of a problem with that. And I think more and more that believers and non-believers alike really appreciate the honesty presented in the songs: the honesty around my own story and struggle.”

“The Madman And The Poet” is Nate Currin’s fourth studio LP since 2011, and it marks an important departure in style. Here, Nate trades a traditional roots/folk sound for a more blues-rock/Americana one, and the results are nearly perfect. A concept album at heart, “The Madman” fills the first half of the album with tales of struggle, doubt, darkness, and regret, and gives way to “The Poet” for the second half, which settles things down with a more acoustic, melodious, and organic sound. The album ebbs and flows like a drifter on winding roads trying to find his way home.

The madman writes “Another Love Song” because he’s tired of the world’s evil: “Stood point blank with the Devil on the banks of the Great Salt Lake / He said the gates of hell are coming to give me back more than I could take”. He laments lost love on Sunset and Vine in the “City of Angels”: “I wish I had the will to survive the same way I wanted you / A memory, a nightlight, a knife to cut out my darkness with truth.” He channels Springsteen’s “I’m On Fire” with the opening drum loops to “Birmingham”, before going full-on Israel Gripka with melody (pound for pound the album’s most stunning track). He erupts into full-blown back-river blues with “Midnight Train”. He slows down in repentance with “Ballad Of A Horse Thief”, reflecting on what it takes to be a righteous man amongst sinners: “For what is a man, if not his word, or his regret / For what is a man, if he won’t change a plan, forget and forgive.” And in the ultimate bout of personal reflection, he contrasts metaphors on “Sinner Or Saint”, asking himself piercing questions of whether he’s the bullet or gun, fire or smoke, train or track, shelter or rain, before concluding with the hammer:

But I leave, free to go. Got a ramblin’ heart and a God I wanna know. I feel alone, but this wanderer’s coming home.”

natecurrin8And with the album’s second half, the poet indeed comes home. He takes a melodic turn with the lilting and aching “Grey King”, finds some light in love with “She Reminds Me”, two-steps about travel and finding an old fashioned girl on “We All Need To Love Sometimes”, and ties up loose ends of faith with “Ship With No Sea” and “Let Grace Fall Down On Me”. It’s a beautiful last twenty minutes — a fitting dichotomy from the grit of the album’s first half. The poet is certainly that: a romantic, a contemplative, a dreamer.

Currin’s influences are broad. He cites old Gospel, southern rock, 90s alternative, and classics like Dylan, Cash, Springsteen, and Petty. He even secretly has written a duet in the chance that he meets Emmylou Harris — a song that he’ll only sing with her. His voice is smooth and deep, weary yet full of sprite, with the occasional boozy moan of Mark Lanegan and falsetto croon of Adam Duritz (see the title track). His arrangements run the gamut of modern Americana, from rousing blues/rock to minimalist folk, but for all of his influences, Nate’s songs stand alone, untouched. They’re raw-boned and original. Immeasurably deep without a hint of regret. Gritty when amped and tender when stripped.

“The Madman And The Poet” is for those who like to stare headlong into the storm, who contemplate the counterbalance of life, and who aren’t afraid to muscle up to anyone who provokes the mystery of life and mind — God or otherwise. It’s an album that longs to be played on long drives, wind in hair, as the moon ascends like pipe smoke on the horizon. It’s the redemption call of a madman, cut loose from the chains that bound him. It’s a glorious record from beginning to end. Christian or secular, this is one of the finest albums you’ll hear this year.

Christian or secular, this is one of the finest albums you'll hear this year. @natecurrin Click To Tweet

 

 

Spotlight lyric: “Let Grace Fall Down On Me”

God forgive me for all of my words
The words that I’ve uttered in doubt
Or the people I’ve cursed

God forgive me for all of my pride
I wear my conceit like a robe
But I’ve nothing to hide

There’s a way that seems right to a man
But the end is death
Give grace to this debtor
And give until there’s nothing left

God forgive me for drinking to shame
If overindulgence is wrong
Then we’re all to blame

God forgive me for always wanting more
And all the greed in my heart that has blinded
My eye for the poor

But let grace fall down on me
Let grace fall down on me
From you

God forgive me for turning my eyes
From the weak and the broken
From the suffering, lost and despised

God forgive me for I am to blame
By keeping from those ones in need
I’m cursing your name

But let grace fall down on me
Let grace fall down on me
Let grace fall down on me
From you

 

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OUR FAVORITE TRACKS

 

  1. City of Angels Nate Currin
  2. Birmingham Nate Currin
  3. Sinner or Saint Nate Currin
  4. Ballad of a Horse Thief Nate Currin
  5. Grey King
  6. We All Need To Love Sometimes Nate Currin
  7. Let Grace Fall Down on Me Nate Currin

 

 

 

Nate Currin

With over 400,000 miles and 600 shows logged the last 10 years, Nate Currin is a troubadour in every sense of the word. Originally from Georgia, Nate has enough of the south in his voice and writing that it shines through, but not without the influence of various experiences and places that only come from living the life of a rambling man. Having traveled to over 20 countries, performed with notable acts like Blues Traveler, Butch Walker, Jars of Clay and Neon Trees, and been featured on MTV he retains his enigmatic drive to fly under the radar from time to time. Currin is chasing after the genuine human connection, one fan and one song at a time. After being nominated for an Independent Music Award and 4 International Music Awards for his third studio album You and I are Ghosts in 2014, which made it as high as #16 on the iTunes charts, Nate took home 3 of those Music Awards, including Songwriter of the Year. Most recently Nate was nominated for a Georgia Music Award for Americana Artist of the Year while finishing up his newest album The Madman and The Poet, which was just released in April 2016.

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