CD REVIEW: Nathaniel Sutton - Starlite
By Cyrus Rhodes
Genre: Industrial Rock.
Sounds Like: Nine Inch Nails, XTC, Blink 182
Winded Songs, Winded Production, Inconsistent Songwriting.
Edmonton Canada guitarist, singer-songwriter Nathaniel Sutton releases “Starlite” in September, 29 2009. Released under Oak Apple Records. This is his debut release.
Logging in at just over 64 minutes the CD kicks things off with “Starlite” a dark, hypnotic groove complete with steady beat, rhythmic guitar, and impressive vocal layering from Sutton. Track 2 “Fragile” delivers yet another melancholy piece with impressive techo-type flow, rich rhythmic guitar layering, and powerful vocals and lyrics. Track 3 “High Holy Day” is yet another thought provoking melody with driving rhythm, impressive vocal harmonies, and industrial-type textures and overtones. The music itself has a vibe that will remind you of Nine Inch Nails with robotic techno grooves, and unique sonic layering. Suttons vocal style sounds strikingly similar to Trent Reznor, or Marilyn Manson, however it's not as genuine and sounds more like NIN sung to us by Napoleon Dynamite - which is not as bad as it sounds. As you dive head first into "Starlite" you will quickly discover Sutton’s music possesses a lot to depth - both musically and lyrically. The true meaning of some of these songs is buried deep within the lyrical content. The musical textures and overtones are amazing, and full of variety. Songs like “Creepy Crawlers” “Blow my Mind” possess a lot of amazing keyboard, and Industrial type accents that keep you entertained. Other songs like, “Starlite” and “High Holy Day” and “1933” are well crafted gems. The defining moments for me are the sad but true moments like - “Five Years Later” this is where we see the true brilliance of Sutton’s music shine through – never afraid to shy away from the naked truth. The chorus on “Five Years Later” is simply brilliant.
I am blown away by Suttons vocal building - within the context of just the verse. It feels like he’s leading up to something truly amazing, but when you arrive there - the knockout punch is nowhere to be found. “Blow my Mind” is the best example of this – seal the deal with a grand slam chorus dude! Sutton is a master arranger of the verse leading up to the chorus, but he needs to go back to the drawing board to figure out how to write a few more grand slam chorus's. While he’s there he needs to figure out how to be more emotional during the chorus as well. A few of the songs lack melodic structure, and posses excessive musical meandering that will test your attention span. All songs over 4 minutes will drag you to the finish line every time. The catalogue pushes 64 minutes, and at times feels winded. By song 14 you feel like you are being dragged to the finish line. I realize this is a subjective art form and all, but alot of the above just feels like songwriting 101. Perhaps Sutton has room to grow in this area. Overall about 50% of the songwriting is simply amazing, the other half needs to be trimmed up a bit, re-arranged differently, or just deleted altogether. If this review seems a bit lopsided it merely reflects the extremes presented on "Starlite." I also recommend pushing all stronger material to the front of the album. It’s no coincidence great albums can hold your attention span perfectly the entire time. "Starlite" definitely has it’s moments, but at times you’ll be looking at the eject button, or thinking about skipping on to the next track. Some of the songs titles on the Intersleve don’t match-up to the titles on the back of the CD. Some lyrics don’t match up either. I’m not sure if any of this is intentional, but it’s confusing.
Overall this release from Nathaniel Sutton has some very impressive moments. Technically speaking it's an industry standard production from start to finish. It's strong suit is the amazing musical depth, rich sonic layering, and Industrial-type beats and sampling. Sutton displays some brilliant creativity not just in some of his songwriting, but with his vocal harmonies, and accents as well. “Stalite” possess a lot a lot of rich musical variety, deep emotional peaks and valleys, and thought provoking subject matter It will not only keep you guessing the entire time, but have you looking over your shoulder as well. I look forward to hearing more music from Nathaniel Sutton soon. As impressive as "Starlite" is I have a feeling ,his best work is yet to come.
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