Dalton's Rough Edges Provide For An Inspired Debut Album
Brooklynite Nate Harar, aka Dalton, moved across the entire US from harsh, gritty New York to the sunny coast of Los Angeles, to feed his day job as a commercials and film composer. But the sound on his debut album is born from his inner low-fi loner. Listening to his songs, you imagine his first forays into music were second-hand guitars and beaten-up amps, distortion cloaking every earnest melody he would come up with.
Dalton’s self-tilted first record plays like a bootleg of ten raw yet melodic, distorted yet crafted, rough yet sincere tracks. It sounds like an old-school dreamgazing, grunge-tinged mixtape.
The album has an un-produced quality, with the vocals left low and the percussion left untouched, but that’s how Dalton wants it; all guitar scratches, single chord rumbles over garage-echoing drums and distant whisper-growl vocals muffled under the mix. The production is low-fi, intentionally since we know Nate Harar can compose and produce shiny stuff with the best of his Hollywood peers, but the songwriting is heartfelt and sincere, coming across like a male Angel Olsen.
The album opens with ‘Autumnal’, a mix of acoustic guitar strumming and single chord amped distortions. The odd marriage of the clean and the scratched continues on ‘Bedford and Grand’ where a piano intro is then roughed up by more distorted guitar riffs. The tunes here are catchy, but you have to wade through the gravel to reach the hook. The melodies aren’t spoon fed to you, but they are there, hearty choruses dragged into a 90s Seattle garage.
‘For The Last’ has a foot-stomping tempo and big arena ambition but the thrown-together feel of the knees-up acoustic guitars, the dive bar piano and the rawness of the production, the intentional removing of the pristine, brings it back to the back alleys. ‘New Time’ is soft and fuzzy, like an alcohol-fuelled headache as you hold onto your only photo of the long-gone ex you’re still madly in love with.
Album highlight ‘So Long So Well’ sounds like early Stone Roses swimming in a haze of soft reverb, and is a slow-burning, sweet ode to patience. Dalton closes his debut album with another grunge-pop, low-fi stomp, and as the distortion dissipates I am left thinking of how Kurt Cobain would talk fondly of his love for the Beatles but rue the melodic influence they had over his anti-corporate, anti-polished, raw sound. While Nate Harar is part of that corporate world, his alter ego Dalton sides with Cobain.
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click here. Words by Lawrence Pearce