Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Review: Neil Nathan “Sweep The Nation”


New York City-based singer/songwriter Neil Nathan charmed our socks off with his previous effort, “The Distance Calls”, a release that displayed his love for Jeff Lynne and Cat Stevens in a series of folky, Alt-Americana styled songs (review here). Fans might not recognize him at first on his follow-up, called “Sweep The Nation”, which may as well have been named “Sweep The Nathan” given how much of the former Neil Nathan has been swept aside to let his “Overlord” alter ego emerge to the fore.

Inspired by the avalanche of socio-economic protests around the world, and actually released under the name “Neil Nathan, Inc.”, “Sweep The Nation” is a “power to the people” concept album dissing corporate personhood. “Sweep The Nation” is a sharp turn in terms of style and influence, but Nathan’s trademark vocals and knack for melody provide a common thread to the artist’s past. This time out, Nathan was written a concept album that pays tribute to classic 70s rock – you’ll hear overt influences from David Bowie, The Stooges, and T. Rex.

This new style is immediate with the appropriately titled opener, “Jumpstart” – a short and sweet rocker in the vein of Matthew Sweet that sets the stage for what’s to come (I got the same impression later on the party tune “Everybody Everywhere”). The title track follows, digging its chorus hook into you right at the get-go. You can detect some of his trademark singer/songwriter attributes coming through in “Comin’ Round The Bend”, but this midtempo rocker quietly builds into a piece that could have fit comfortably on a 90s Collective Soul record. The foot-stomping anthem “I Ain’t No Company Man” strikes at the heart of the record’s themes, while “There Is No Time” is one of the catchiest songs in the collection and “Evey” gives a nod to Cheap Trick. Not everything is bombastic – even the Overlord has his somber moments with the beautiful “For The Lucky Ones” and the closer, “All We Need Is So Much More”.

“Sweep The Nation” is a satisfying trip down memory lane to a time when concept albums mattered – this record is to Nathan what “The Wall” was to Pink Floyd. Nathan’s songwriting sensibilities are as sharp as ever, crafting songs that stand alone remarkably well yet gel with the others to build an epic story. “Sweep The Nation” will sweep you off your feet and allow you to get your democracy on at the same time.

Neil Nathan – Official site.

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