Vibrant and emotional alt-country from Australian singer-songwriter.
Nathan Seeckts is from Geelong, a city on the southern coast of Australia near Melbourne. ‘Something Rare And Beautiful’ is his second album after 2019’s ‘The Heart Of The City’ and is a set of consistently excellent, memorable and enjoyable songs which you find yourself looking forward to listening to.
The music is traditional alt-country with no great surprises and he quite rightly likens himself to artists such as Steve Earle and American Aquarium. However, this doesn’t matter when the songwriting is of such quality. The tracks started life acoustically but then Seeckts assembled a group of players to record the album, many of whom had worked with him on his previous album. He recalls that the songs: “began to lift, shine and take on a driving, anthemic sound that I really hadn’t expected to discover when I had demoed them”
Electric guitar has been added over acoustic and then, on many occasions, steel guitar drives songs along with wonderful melodies. Keyboard and violin have been used at times and there are female harmonies on some tracks. Seeckts’ gravelly vocals complement his down-to-earth lyrics perfectly.
The album kicks off in a brilliantly red-blooded and raucous way on the single ‘The Wildest Thing’ with Seeckts singing admiringly to a woman he meets in a bar “You were the wildest thing I have ever seen” and then tells of their short time together. Next up is the fabulous ‘King Of The Room’, a savage take-down of a woman who is talking at a gig when the band is playing: “You’ve got all the charm of an unshuffled deck/ With your red wine mouth and your lack of respect”. Seeckts has a great love of live music, whether playing or listening, and loves the way that it brings people together, so woe betide anybody who gets in the way of that.
In ‘Cassette in The Tapedeck’, a live favourite with its rousing chorus, he recalls being driven in his dad’s car with his sister listening to music. The feelings it evokes strongly remind you of Lucinda Williams’ ‘Car Wheels On A Gravel Road’. The title track, which tells of being mesmerised by a woman singing up there on stage and includes violin, could be from a Jason Isbell album and easily stands comparison with his songs. ‘Little Church’ has echoes musically of ‘Ghost To Most’ by Drive-By Truckers and the lyrics, which are an expertly told story of a wedding gone wrong, could have been written by them.
Seeckts often looks nostalgically back at his past, telling stories and considering “the rare and beautiful moments rushing by us that we often take for granted in our lives”. He also writes about love; for example, the love an old man for his wife in ‘No Ifs No Buts No Maybes’ or the love for someone close, perhaps his dad, at a funeral in ‘I Watched You Slip Away’.
If you enjoy americana then you would need a heart of stone not to like this. One of the albums of the year so far.