THE HEART OF THE CITY
This is the debut album from Melbourne singer/songwriter Nathan Seeckts. He’s released a string of EPs since 2010 and that slow and steady approach has served him well, going on the impressive and consistent quality of the songwriting and musicianship on The Heart Of The City.
Seeckts deals in alt-country of the heartland kind. The types of stories that could have been penned by names such as Springsteen, with tales transplanted from New Jersey to Geelong. Seeckts unashamedly wears his influences on this sleeve with a tip of the cowboy hat to the songwriting and vocal delivery of Ben Nichols of Lucero and the economical and detailed lyrical style of Jason Isbell. A weaker voice would falter if they followed so closely in the footsteps of their heroes but across these ten tracks Seeckts consistently hits a fine marriage of high emotion, poetry and strong melodies.
Seeckts sets up his songs well, introducing characters and setting the scene before he leads the band into glorious, rousing choruses that are as much rock as they are country. ‘Sirens’ is a perfect example, dealing with the important issue of domestic violence but framing it within a rich musicality that wouldn’t be out of place on albums by his aforementioned influences.
‘Moonlight Creek’ highlights the variety on the album by taking a folkier direction, while ‘Thunder And Rain’ is one of those ‘letting your hair down’ songs, loose and rocking. ‘Three Soldiers’ is an interesting and affecting reflection on childhood friendships and how, with the passing of time, different life paths are taken. ‘Whiskey Drunk’ is a fine addition to the canon of country songs about drinking and devotion. Second single ‘Beast Beneath My Bed’ is another highlight, holding tension and slowly building through the verses via some great guitar playing.
Seeckts voice is the clincher here. Though it wouldn’t ring true without the strength of the writing behind it, there’s a real heart and soul to the way he delivers his lyrics. 100% commitment to his words and the confidence to stretch for high notes, letting the grit and grain of his voice break into a growl when necessary. It all adds up to a highly accomplished debut Australian alt-country album.