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Nate Radley: Morphoses

Dan Bilawsky By

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There are guitarists out there who seek to burn an impression of their work into ears and minds, and there are others who manage to make an impression simply by being themselves. Nate Radley falls into the second category. His music isn't forceful, but it still manages to make an impact.

On Morphoses, Radley shifts between, and occasionally fuses, low-key modern jazz and Americana language(s). There's a number that references Merle Travis ("Travis"); there are pieces that bring to mind the music of Neil Young, be it with Crazy Horse ("Sunset Stomp") or in softer environs ("Ramble"); and there are plenty of pieces—the rest of them, in fact—that have absolutely nothing to do with heartland sounds. Radley's not afraid to throw some countrified music into the mix, but he's still more likely to dole out a quietly compelling construct ("Long Notes"), music built around curiosity and caution ("Squirelly"), and semi-urgent calls to action ("Mechanics").

Morphoses is Radley's third album, but it's something of an extension of what he presented on his debut—The Big Eyes (Fresh Sound New Talent, 2011). Radley uses the same band here, minus Pete Rende who added Fender Rhodes to that project, and everybody involved manages to work in delicate yet probing fashion. Saxophonist Loren Stillman paints with gentle resolve; drummer Ted Poor provides drive and presence in certain places, but he's just as likely to blend into the scenery; and bassist Matt Pavolka's round-and-centered sound locks everything into place. And then there's Radley. The man in charge shows great patience while fleshing out his ideas, demonstrating confidence in his choice(s) of direction all the while. He's managed to boil those ideas down to their essence, presenting music here that speaks more directly than his previous work.

Track Listing: Sunset Stomp; Glow; Dots And Rhythms; Travis; Forced Fun; Ramble; Long Notes; Mechanics; Squirelly.

Personnel: Nate Radley: electric guitar, acoustic guitar, lap steel; Loren Stillman: alto saxophone, tenor saxophone; Matt Pavolka: acoustic bass; Ted Poor: drums.

Title: Morphoses | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Fresh Sound New Talent

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