I'll Be (Off) My Feet
There is a reason why we obsess about underground music here. The voices often unheard, overlooked beyond the attention of radio stations and stadium tours, are so regularly the most satisfying, creative and expressive that the landscape of music-making as to offer. The most exciting things in music are, and always have been, happening outside the mainstream, and musicians like Nate Adamson are exactly why we do what we do.
'Grace' is one of the most confident and well-made debut singles we've ever encountered. It's a reflection; a criss-cross of stylistic influences and musical inspirations, distilled into a 5 minute stream of remarkably calm, yet vibrantly personal songwriting. It's somewhere in the beautiful vicinities of Kurt Vile, Kacey Musgraves and Angus Stone, but it doesn't ape, nor imitate. This is Adamson's own, wonderfully designed by his own steady hand into something compelling, yet distinct.
The Canadian artist is responsible for every syllable, every stem, every second of songwriting on display through 'Grace.' Hell, he even built the studio it was recorded in. That incredible level of personal investment reverberates audibly throughout the song, all enveloped by Adamson's artistic direction, liberated by his enviable capabilities as a producer, singer and multi-instrumentalist.
It's remarkable how well balanced and mastered the track is. It sounds outrageous to say, but 'Grace' sounds just as well produced as any song from Musgraves' Golden Hour, and I mean it. This track sounds utterly, utterly pristine. Immediately the splashes of cymbals and gorgeous Pinegrove-adjacent guitar tones strike out as totally astonishing from an artist of Adamson's means. But as the vocals pierce through the mist-covered dry ice shrouds of light key chords and acoustic guitar strums, my god.
In recording an incredibly intimate vocal performance, the closeness between Adamson's voice and the microphone he recorded it into is felt ten fold in the final track. Wistful declarations of "all I need is Grace around" hit with a peerless clarity and emotional resonance from the sheer immediacy of Adamson's performance, complimented by subtle harmonies and this satisfying transition into a cathartic guitar solo. Perhaps the tone of the song's vocal processing may go slightly too noticeable at times (though I actually very much enjoyed the sound of the song's metallic pitch adjustments), but it remains a really beautiful balance between country and soft rock vocal influences.
With 'Grace', Nate Adamson has produced a brilliantly adept introduction to the sonic dimensions of his world. All at once its effortlessly comfortable in its own skin, while being a quite stunningly confident debut single all the same. It's one more song to throw into the pile for essential songs to catch-up on from 2020's underground output, and a voice that must not be overlooked as 2021 begins.
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Thanks for reading! Slow Motion Panic Masters is a music, arts and culture blog created and co-edited by Ben Wheadon, a literature student and musician based at the University of Oxford. He is also a Fleet Foxes shill.
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