Nassau — Heron (Sept. 8th, 2017) ★λ★ “AND I WILL NEVER BE LONESOME... AND I’LL NEVER BE ALONE... YOUR THOUGHTS ARE ALWAYS WITH ME... TO CARRY ME BACK HOME”.Location: Brooklyn, New York
Album release: Sept. 8th, 2017
Record Label: Fire Talk
01 Over Time 3:39
02 Whatever Brings You Peace of... 4:40
03 Champagne 3:34
04 Risin’ Sun 4:39
05 Long Arc 2:02
06 Heaven Knows 4:24
07 Spring 2:32
08 Ain’t It Time 4:56
°°° Fire Talk // 681 Park Ave. Brooklyn, NY 11206
★λ★ Justin Wilcox and Jeffrey Silverstein.
★λ★ Debut LP from Nassau out September 8th on Fire Talk.
★λ★ Nassau is the collaborative recording project from Brooklyn~based songwriters Justin Wilcox and Jeffrey Silverstein. Both seeking new creative outlets following respective projects in Baltimore and Chattanooga, the duo formed in late 2015 out of a mutual respect for raw, honest music. Sitting on a handful of riffs and half~swongs, material would soon actualize for Hoss (2016), their debut EP of tranquil ambient/folk for Fire Talk Records.
★λ★ Heron, the group’s first proper LP, sees the duo hitting their stride. Recorded, mixed, and produced by Wilcox at his home studio in South Williamsburg, the album explores new territory both sonically and thematically. Taking a far more deliberate and careful approach to writing, the album centers on the concept of change and balance~ the Heron often representing an ability to progress and evolve in folklore. A warm, full~bodied sound envelopes each track giving breathing room for interweaving guitar lines, meditative rhythms and Wilcox’s gentle vocal delivery. Relying only on guitars, drum machines, and synth, the duo capitalize on using ambient textures as a base layer for each of these 8 beautiful tracks. Heron will be released September 8th on Fire Talk Records.
Note from the band —
★λ★ “This record was written and recorded throughout a series of big changes in both of our lives. Justin got married, I got engaged and finished a master’s degree, and we both began new creative endeavors. Throughout all of this — we asked both ourselves and each other a lot of big questions. We set out to make an album that represented the changes happening in our minds, our hearts and in our lives. Even though we “wrote” these songs, none of them would have been possible without the support of our family, friends, and community. Thank you to anyone who takes the time to listen.”
LIAM DOYLE. 19TH SEPTEMBER 2017
★λ★ Brooklyn duo Nassau, AKA Justin Wilcox and Jeffrey Silverstein, are back with their first proper full~length, Heron. You may remember we covered the band’s debut EP Hoss last year, which we described as “like Water Liars swaying in sunglasses, or the feeling of watching a summer’s evening fading from peach to blue-grey, the air thick with an insect hum and the petrichor of distant storms.”
★λ★ Heron shows renewed focus since the release of Hoss, each of the eight tracks crafted with precision from the reasonably utilitarian set~up of guitar, drum machine and synth, producing a sound that’s clean and smooth, a remarkable feat considering the whole thing was made in Wilcox’s home studio. This sense of focus extends beyond sonic matter too, as the writing centres on the imagery of the titular heron, traditionally a symbol of progression and evolution, to explore themes of evolution and equilibrium, that delicate relationship between balance and change.
★λ★ But despite this evolution, all the things we liked about Nassau on Hoss are still present. ‘Whatever Brings You Peace of Mind’ has a sidewinding tropical lilt, suffused with peach~pink evening light. It’s a folk song but not as we know it, drawing on ambient and dream pop to transcend the earthy constraints of guitar and percussion, conjuring a sense of space and texture.
★λ★ If that sounds like dusk, then, as its name suggests, ‘Risin’ Sun’ is a dawn song. Equal parts exotic and mellow, the track is built on minimally tranquil guitar and lyrics which have an almost mantra~like quality, simple lines recited to bring peace and hope to all.
★λ★ “AND I WILL NEVER BE LONESOME... AND I’LL NEVER BE ALONE... YOUR THOUGHTS ARE ALWAYS WITH ME... TO CARRY ME BACK HOME”
★λ★ The opening of the instrumental ‘Long Arc’ sounds like a conventional folk song, the gentle acoustics soon joined by electric guitar that skates around with frictionless ease, while ‘Spring’ feels like it’s playing at half speed, infused with a sense of freedom, periods of almost silence punctuating what grows into a heartfelt slice of minimal synth pop. Closer ‘Ain’t it Time’ sounds like the culmination of everything that’s come before. It’s rich and warm and heady with subtle emotion, the crooning vocals at once relaxed and purposeful, stretching out to a leisurely five minutes full of rhetorical questions which point at larger issues of purpose and lifestyle.
★λ★ It’s perhaps the most obvious nod to the overarching themes on the record, and one which makes renewed sense in light of the note the band wrote about the album: “This record was written and recorded throughout a series of big changes in both of our lives… Throughout all of this — we asked both ourselves and each other a lot of big questions. We set out to make an album that represented the changes happening in our minds, our hearts and in our lives”. ★λ★ http://varioussmallflames.co.uk/
★λ★ On Heron, the debut full~length album from Nassau, members Justin Wilcox and Jeffrey Silverstein look to the future with hope and calm reserve, using relaxed Americana and psychedelic sounds to amplify those emotions. Equal parts realism and romanticism, Heron guides the listener through the journey of life with a sense of poise and patience. While there is a destination in mind — a calm future, illustrated by a series of serene settings that crop up throughout the record — Nassau cherishes the voyage, and puts their faith in the natural goodness of the world.
★λ★ Heron opens at the pace of a new mountain stream — alive and steady, but tranquil. “We all get lost…but over time we turn around,” sings Wilcox on “Over Time,” showcasing his overt optimism and fondness for natural imagery. Those two threads run throughout the record; later, on songs like “Whatever Brings You Peace of Mind” and “Risin’ Sun,” the duo dabble in Appalachian folk, electric and acoustic guitars floating and swirling like fallen leaves in the breeze. On “Champagne” and “Long Arc,” two of the album’s more rollicking tracks, the quicker pace injects a welcome enthusiasm into the proceedings.
★λ★ Lyrically, Heron is fixated on transitions, natural and otherwise. There’s a palpable yearning — for resolution, or maybe simply order — throughout the record, but the songs never succumb to the anxiety of waiting. “Spring comes slowly don’t you know / Winter is over now you can go home,” Wilcox calmly sings on “Risin’ Sun.” The thaw comes again on the aptly~titled “Spring,” a song that starts with uncertainty (“Spring / I often wonder what you’ll bring”), ends with positivity and surrender (“Despite all my places to hide / You’ve always been kind”).
★λ★ At Heron’s conclusion, the dreamy “Ain’t It Time,” we reach our destination, no longer looking forward, but embracing the power of the present. The chord change that arrives on the bridge captures the excitement of starting anew, but it’s immediately followed by a reversed guitar solo, suggesting that the past is never far. The song ends with the same warping guitars that open the album, completing the circle and starting the journey from the top. Ultimately, Heron is a song cycle in the truest sense, built on the understanding that life is on an unending loop of anticipation and resolve. Seasons change, we do too, and that’s a good thing.