CD REVIEW: Nathanial Sexton - "Grave"
By: Cyrus Rhodes
"Sexton is a premier talent"
"Powerful, passionate, & uplifting
- INDIE MUSIC DIGEST:-
Artist: Nathanial Sexton
Genre: Rock, Pop, Soul, R&B
Sounds Like: Rob Thomas, Michael Duble, Jeff Buckley
Technical Grade: 5/10
Weakness: Erratic Mix, Dated Sounding Production, Marketability
Atlanta’s own singer, songwriter Nathan Sexton releases his debut CD entitled “Grave” an exciting 10 track catalogue citing influences ranging from Jeff Buckley, Ryan Adams, The Beetles, & Tom Petty.
The CD kicks things off with “I’m Fine” a smooth intro lullaby that serves up hypnotic melodies, well placed harmonies, accompanied by inviting 70’s psychedelic flair. Track 2 “Satellite” shifts gears a bit delivering a more amped-up guitar delivery, with it's dynamic peak & valley musical flow, coupled with hypnotic vocal layering from Sexton. Track 3 presents a solid remake of the classic Beetles ”All My Loving.” It’s quite impressive how well Sexton makes this song all his own, with his effective harmonies & well placed percussive accents along the way. As the CD slowly unfolds I can hear many musical influences reminiscent of classic Yes, The Beetles, Jeff Buckley & Michael Duble with perhaps just a splash of America, & Crosby Stills & Nash. The music itself has a lot of musical variety to it delivering music that has a powerful, passionate & uplifting spirit to it. The CD offers a rich melodic & vocal foundation, with lush layers of instrumentation along the way. I would classify this music as rock, pop with a vintage 70’s psychedelic rock aftertaste. Besides the standard 4 piece delivery, you will also notice brief splashes of instrumentation layered everywhere from piano, acoustic guitar, mandolin, percussive accents, to distorted guitar & full orchestral strings. This production is packed to the hilt with impressive chops from Sexton & his band. Sexton’s voice works well within the catalogue & is in the vein of Jon Anderson (YES), Elton John, Rob Thomas, Jeff Buckley, & even Michael W. Smith. I might add Sexton plays guitar & takes some very impressive vocal risks along the way. This indicates to me a strong & confident vocal ability. I didn’t fail to notice a few well placed falsettos along the way either. By track 4 the CD hits solid stride delivering 5 amazing songs back to back. From powerful “Defeat” to bluesy “The you inside of me” to passionate “Crooner” & “My favorite Season” this CD pretty much has something for just about everyone.
The overall production quality (recording, mixing, mastering) seems to be somewhat erratic, amateurish, & a bit all over the place. From drums that lack serious bottom end, to obscure sounding distorted guitars, & drum recordings, to extreme right to left pans, to vocal levels that seem extremely disproportional to the music – this CD has all the trademarks of a "basement garage-band" or a dated late eighties & early ninety mix job. This is especially evident whenever the full band kicks in, especially drums, percussion & distorted guitar. It takes skill and engineering savvy to record, mix, & master a musical production to industry standards these days. The impact this will have on it's overall marketability cannot be overstated. If this was 1975 this would be a cutting edge musical production, unfortunately it's 2010, so the bar is set really high for independent artists like Sexton. Given the talent factor of Sexton, & the scope of his songwriting craft, amazing vocal abilities, & world class musicianship - it’s a bit unfortunate besides being unorthodox. If this review seems lopsided it’s merely a reflection to the extremes presented on “Grave.”
In close “Grave” is an impressive musical production from start to finish. It’s strong suit – it's amazing musical variety, world class musicianship, & amazing vocal presence from Sexton. The songs are extremely melodic, passionate, & powerful & will no doubt lift your spirits without even trying. The musicianship is first rate; the songs are short & sweet musical experiences, each one possessing a unique personality, flair, & signature groove. Last but not least Nathaniel Sexton is a premier talent, possessing solid chops, an infectious voice, & some amazing songwriting skills. If I could say anything to Sexton right now – it would be to surround yourself with world class Mixing, Mastering, & Recording engineers that can do your music proper justice thus giving your audience a production they so rightfully deserve. Do this & it’s fair to say your best CD is yet to come.
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