Last year, local Nashville artist and acquaintance Nate Hale posted a Kickstarter to record a new full-length. Because I enjoyed some of his former work, and I know him to be a talented, humble musician, I contributed to get the digital download when the album was complete. Seasons was released on April 10th, and I promptly got my copy via Bandcamp.
I’ll be the first to admit that the music on Seasons isn’t quite my normal fare, at least stylistically. The instrumentation ranges from acoustic guitar to ukulele and beyond, and the tracks span several genres, all while remaining distinctly Hale. There are even some acapella-inspired vocal harmonies. Perhaps because of the genres I frequent, I wasn’t used to hearing such a diversity of instrumentation and styles all in one place, but it works well. The best way I can describe the music is this: imagine if Jon Foreman and Jack Johnson had a baby, or at least collaborated on an album. The folk sensibilities and deeper perspective of Foreman would meld with the laid-back feel and subtle vocals of Johnson to create something like Seasons.
Thematically, the album takes on a few topics, though it largely focuses on relationships. Don’t let that description fool you; this is far from a collection of emo tunes or sappy love songs. The thing I most enjoy about Nate is that he manages to put a more profound twist into songs which the typical songwriter may leave at surface level. In many cases, he begins exploring familiar topics, for example drawing the listener in with poetic lines about love, before turning to ponder the true meaning of the word. Most of the songs stay relatively upbeat and happy, meaning there is ample opportunity to gain listeners who enjoy accessible music, but also want something deeper. At the same time, tracks like “Dear Alcohol” and “Lullaby” take a more down-tempo approach.
The production is nothing short of professional, and as one who funded the Kickstarter, it’s very satisfying to hear how well it turned out. Hale and co-producer Cheyenne Medders definitely took their time with these songs, paying attention to the smallest detail to get everything just right. I’m sure Nate is very proud of what he was able to release, and it surely captures the visions he had for these songs.
Overall, this is a great album for summertime with a mix of upbeat and reflective songs. Fans of Jon Foreman, Jack Johnson, and the like will find lots of things to love in these eleven tracks.