MP3 Nathan Singleton and His Sideshow Tragedy - Itinerant Youth
A raucous amalgam of blues, country, and punk--if Howlin'' Wolf, Lucinda Williams, and the Stooges made a record, it might sound something like this.
10 MP3 Songs
ROCK: Rock & Roll, COUNTRY: Alt-Country
"This is a record about movement, both literal and otherwise. It''s traveling with a rock band, leaving where you are, wishing you were somewhere else, being homesick, or just changing your mind..."--Nathan Singleton and His Sideshow Tragedy
With their second album, Itinerant Youth, Nathan Singleton and His Sideshow Tragedy have firmly established their ability to appeal to a wide variety of music fans without resorting to kitchen-sink eclecticism. The tracks on the album showcase a wide range of styles, but it still feels truly cohesive--a factor which probably resulted from the record being recorded mostly live in one day, with minimal post-session overdubs. And most importantly for a truly great album, every song hits the mark. There are no lulls, no tracks you will skip when listening to Itinerant Youth.
After touring much of last year behind their first record and opening for/sharing the stage with Alejandro Escovedo, Charlie Sexton, Guy Forsyth and many others, Singleton has returned with drummer Jeremy Harrell and bass player Justin Wade Thompson, as well as producer and collaborator Gabriel Gonzalez(Sparta, Sleepercar), who has wonderfully harnessed the raw energy and passion of the band–a band the Austin Chronicle has called “a talent to watch.”
Itinerant Youth opens with its title track, an atmospheric piece that truly foreshadows the sound of the band and the album – a twangy National steel guitar mixed with ambient backing guitar and concise, pensive lyrics. This leads into “A Pint of Whiskey and a Pound of Grace,” a blues/punk road song that echoes the experiences of the band on multiple cross-country tours since the release of their first album, Borrowed Guitars, Unwound Hearts, and Broken Strings.
“Pascal’s Wager” is a bouncing gospel-tinged rag that makes you want to clap your hands, complete with a choral backing and rollicking goodtime piano by Gonzalez, but a closer listen will reveal scathing lyrics worthy of a Flannery O’Connor story that lampoons the concept of salvation in evangelical churches across the Bible Belt. “A Few More Days” is a nod to early-70 Stones, and already a high point in the band''s live performances.
The centerpiece of the album, “The Ballad of Stagolee and the Preacher Man” is the band’s take on a classic story of unrepentant violence that took place in St. Louis on Christmas Eve 1895. Versions of the tale have been recorded by the likes of Mississippi John Hurt, Lloyd Price, Bob Dylan, Woodie Guthrie, The Clash, and many others, but Nathan Singleton and His Sideshow Tragedy’s version lends the perfect gritty musical backing for the turbulent subject matter of gambling and murder. “The Fog in the City” is a bass-driven song that evokes visions of a noirish Americana – like steam vents on Brooklyn street corners.
With Itinerant Youth, Nathan Singleton and his Sideshow Tragedy have bottled their live-show lightning, a musical experience that lingers with the listener for days...which is never a bad thing when the music is this good.
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