"Not only is he a great guitar player," quips a long-term band member. "He's a scary guitar player." Street-West has written hundreds of original songs and is respected for the melodic hooks, storytelling style and poetic lyrics of his work. Producer Mark Howard (Daniel Lanois, U2, Bob Dylan) who produced Street-West’s most recent release (Witness) says, “Above everything else, I’m drawn to lyrics with a story in them. For me, great songs are journeys,” Howard remarks. “I’ve worked with some of the greatest songwriters alive today, and Nathaniel writes as they do in that his songs give me visions, just like reading a book.
You feel that you’re in a dark place, or in a desert; wherever it might be, his songs take me there.” As if this were not enough, Street-West has a strong, easily recognizable voice that spans around five octaves and can easily handle most of the genres of today’s popular music. His songwriting, performing, and guitar styles range from good solid rock, through alternative rock — nimbly dispatch the blues, folk, and Americana — and extend into jazz and beyond. Writing about Street-West’s second release (American Way), Bob Doershuck explains: “All of this flashes past as American Way rushes down the nighttime highway charted by Street-West. Some of the scenery seems familiar: The grease that drips from his guitar summons black-and-white images of the distant Deep South. His voice -- wry and ironic, then ripped by a spasm of old agonies brought back to life, and then, just as suddenly, weary and weathered -- will suggest Dylan, or Hank Williams, or Kurt Cobain, depending on where the needle drops… People like Nathaniel Street-West come along too rarely. And when they do, what they have to say can change the landscape of our lives.” Renowned musician and drummer Jim Keltner participated in the recording of Witness.
Keltner, moved deeply by the song Coldness Follows on Witness, said “That song really got to me. I immediately connected to a person in my life who is meaningful to me. When art touches you where you feel that strongly, it doesn’t get any better. It’s what it is all about” Bob Doershuck writes of Witness, “The emptiness, as much as sounds, that fills Witness, speaks from Street-West’s soul – and every moment that’s heard, every silence that’s felt, announces the arrival of a visionary, one whose music can change the listener’s world. Magic, miracle ...
these aren’t the kinds of words you associate with most new albums these days. But there’s no better way to describe Witness. Some albums document exceptional performances. Others are sonic masterpieces – monuments to studio wizardry.
Rarely do these qualities meet and enhance each other, but that’s what happens throughout Witness. Let’s add one more word to the list: classic. That’ll become clear in the years to come – but, judging from what we’ve heard from Nathaniel Street-West, by that time he will have taken us to some other place, vivid and mysterious. “He’s a very old soul,” says Keltner. “His journey is just beginning …” Read more on Last.fm.
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