Jimson Weed

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Jimson Weed is Nathan's second album, and their first for Nettwerk. The higher profile is deserved, as the Winnipeg combo has cut out a pretty, fun, and unique slice of the Americana (by way of Canada) pie. The music travels easily between country & western, hot jazz, and the back roads of rootsy pop; besides the spare combo of kick drum and snare running throughout, Nathan augments each track with flourishes of banjo, accordion, steel guitar, and what just might be the wispy willow of a musical saw in the romantic shadows of "Discarded Debris." As accomplished as Jimson Weed is instrumentally, it's the voices of Keri McTighe and Shelley Marshall that truly define Nathan's sound. Pitched high but capable of impressive dynamic and emotional range, their harmonies energize "Lock Your Devils Up"'s locomotive ramble, tart up the petticoats and skiffle of "Emilina," and prove easily adaptable to modern-style pop on "I Left My Station," a tune pitched somewhere between Shawn Colvin and Sarah McLachlan. Dustily muted trumpet and plucked banjo help give McTighe and Marshall's vocals a front-parlor feel on "One Spend," while touches of electric guitar in the chorus place it decidedly in the 21st century. This is a nice place for Nathan to be, since it allows them to access various styles and eras of music without being pigeonholed. They're free to explore a honky tonk/blues hybrid on "Red River Clay" and pleasant trad country on the pedal steel-tinged "Bad Ideas" ("I'm going down the highway/With a suitcase full of all my bad ideas/Gonna test them all/See what I've been missing all these years..."), and still keep the music current with clever lyrics and vocals that take on some qualities of the past, but always remain uniquely Nathan. Jimson Weed's an interesting, varied album that doesn't have a mean bone in its body.

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