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Nathaniel Talbot - Swamp Rose and Honeysuckle Vine (Fluff and Gravy)

Star rating: 
5

Nathaniel Talbot's biography sounds almost as charming as the music he makes. The singer songwriter runs a farm on Whidbey Island, in Washington State's Puget Sound, where he works sixty hours a week to provide the Pacific Northwest with its organic vegetables. When he's not elbow deep in the earth, however, this fine wordsmith, singer and guitarist ploughs a very different field indeed, exposing his musical roots and harvesting songs for albums such as SWAMP ROSE AND HONEYSUCKLE VINE, his latest release on Portland, Oregon's Fluff and Gravy Records.

Whilst we can easily make a comparison to James Taylor upon hearing Talbot's high, honeyed voice and gently arresting finger-picking, it soon becomes evident that a different kind of craftsman is at work here. The poetry of such songs as Able Man and Swamp Rose and Honeysuckle Vine has all the earthy power of Seamus Heaney, AE Housman and Robert Frost. The instrumentals scattered amongst these lyrically impressive songs also expose the touch of an artisan, Winter's Edge and When the Wind is Right are almost painterly, with guitar, fiddle and dobro providing brushstrokes that often succeed in telling stories better than any lyric could.

With this, his fourth release, Nathaniel Talbot delivers a fresh basket of nourishment from what seems to be a fine crop of original songs and instrumentals indeed. The album provides an invigorating glimpse of the contemporary North American folk landscape with its wide and sprawling sound and tangling briers of sweet melody.

Liam Wilkinson
Northern Sky