Nathaniel Paul – ‘Turpentine’

A melodic range of pop, folk, and rock impress across Turpentine, the sophomore album from Nathaniel Paul. Also half of husband-wife duo The Bergamot, Paul’s songwriting excels across the album, from understated folk successes like “Never” to the synth-laden bounciness of “We Can’t Keep Running Away.”

“Start Over” kicks off the album with an easy-going allure. Balmy synths and buzzing synths complement a vocal presence that urges to move on and find someone new, culminating in the “if you love her, let her go,” outpouring. The album’s title track follows, further the debonair vibe apparent thus far with glimmering guitar bursts and calming vocal pushes.

A peppier pop/rock bounce emanates on “We Can’t Keep Running Away.” A bouncy bass-laden pulse and colorful synth buzzes glide into a laid-back vocal presence, gradually ascending in brightness. The title-touting hook struts a peppy enamoring, as twangy guitar tones and the bouncy bass combine with a lush vocal hookiness. “During the writing of this song, I was spending a lot of time thinking about death. How it leaves a void in your life,” the artist says. “So in retrospect, the mistakes that we make are really insignificant when it comes to this perspective.”

The highlights continue throughout. “Help Each Other Along” succeeds in its warming folk-friendly arsenal, infusing harmonica and trickling acoustics amidst a timeless-sounding vocal presence. “Words they mean nothing, nothing at all,” the vocals muse into the melodic title-referencing refrain. “The Crown” concludes the album in satiating form, featuring a radiant vocal emphasis — “I’m happy for you now,” — that artfully continues themes of moving on into a brighter, healthier outlook. Turpentine is a consistently compelling album from Nathaniel Paul.

“Start Over” and other tracks featured this month can be streamed on the updating Obscure Sound’s ‘Emerging Singles’ Spotify playlist.

Mike Mineo

I'm the founder/editor of Obscure Sound, which was formed in 2006. Previously, I wrote for PopMatters and Stylus Magazine.

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