Artist Spotlight

Review: Nathaniel Bellows, “The Old Illusions”

No Comments 7 February 2016

Review: Nathaniel Bellows, “The Old Illusions”

“This isn’t a showy or flashy album, but it is full of imaginative vibrance. A complex and interesting songwriter, Bellows has fashioned an album that requires more than a single listening to appreciate everything happening in the arrangements and lyrics.”

Artist: Nathaniel Bellows

Album: The Old Illusions

Genre: Folk

RIYL: Marcus Mumford, Johnny Cash, Leonard Cohen

Nathaniel Bellows - The Old Illusions

Oh, Now. Nathaniel Bellows is an author, visual artist, poet and musician. While this New York-based artist might be considered something of a renaissance man, the delivery of his debut album, The Old Illusions, might have me leaning toward musician just a little bit harder. Truthfully, all of those other creative outlets are felt as influences on this record rendering it to sound more like a continuation of an artistic journey rather than the start of a musical career. What’s very clear here is that Bellows’ acclaim in other arenas translates beautifully to his music.

The Old Illusions is a very intimate, earnest album. Bellows’ vocals are piercing, and very distinct; perhaps the best comparison would be that of Marcus Mumford, but more refined. That’s not to say this lacks in any emotional capacity, for it’s the intensity of Johnny Cash or Leonard Cohen that lives within Bellows’ ability to tell a story and focus squarely on the lyrics. And it really is the vocal performance here that stands out; Bellows bears the unmistakable mark of a haunted, introspective artist. This is the perfect tool to enhance the lyrical, poetic and vivid imagery of the lyrical content.

Lead track “Oh, Now” is a harbinger for what’s to come on the rest of the record, but it’s also a standout among a strong eight-track effort. Everything about this song is perfection; Bellows’ simple, effective vocal performance belies the complexity and overall depth of the track. It’s one you definitely go back to over and over again, and stands up on its own as a great introduction to the artistry Bellows aims to achieve. “The Reason” is another track that finds Bellows articulating flawlessly and employing heavenly backing vocals to elevate the lyrics to new heights. “Modern Days” also stands out amongst the pack of poetry with its great guitar work and pitch-perfect vocals.

The Old Illusions is a perfect title for this record; Bellows is indeed a throwback and progressive all at once. This isn’t a showy or flashy album, but it is full of imaginative vibrance. A complex and interesting songwriter, Bellows has fashioned an album that requires more than a single listening to appreciate everything happening in the arrangements and lyrics. He may not choose to focus on music in the future, but Nathaniel Bellows has certainly captured his artistic spirit with The Old Illusions.


Nathaniel Bellows: http://www.nathanielbellows.com/

 

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