Nate Birkey has a lithe trumpet sound and slight, soft vocal delivery that will undoubtedly draw comparisons to Chet Baker. Although Birkey himself admits to a strong Baker influence, his voice is somehow more brittle than Baker's and less androgynous. His trumpet playing is also more plaintive and even closer to Miles Davis' minimalist approach than Baker's ever was. Ballads is a recording of just that and a nice introduction to Birkey's "medium cool" aesthetic. He tackles 11 slow and mid-tempo numbers in a somewhat derivative style. Nonetheless, with creative group arrangements that often feature vibraphone, he breathes atmospheric life into "For All We Know" and "I Will Wait for You." This is touching and pleasant afterglow music.
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AllMusic Review by Matt Collar