CD Review: “Go Slow, But Go” Nathan Bell
“I play this 1966 Fender Telecaster, but you’re still gone.” Nathan Bell (1966 Telecaster)
I’m listening to In Tune, On Time, Not Dead, the music of Nathan Bell. Nathan’s an incredibly soulful, wise, and hard-hitting lyrical musician who currently resides in Chattanooga, TN. On the track “Manuel Jacket” he sings, “Maybe I should have bought that jacket, the one that would have changed my life . . .“ with the urgency symbolic of a man affirming his artistic worth against an otherwise oppressive definition of commercial success. Having set aside his music for over ten years, with this current release Nathan does more than bob up for air: he bursts out of the water like a shark ready to attack demons before they even attempt to get in the way.
The son of poet Marvin Bell, Nathan inherited that poetic sensibility for the power of symbolism and metaphor. His literary instinct for subtlety slips into “The Good Things” where he acknowledges both the transitory essence of and the necessity of small joys: “Life ain’t perfect, but it’s practically free if you know what I mean . . . going down Highway 27 when the sun breaks through the clouds, it’s just the road I need, if you know what I mean . . . it’s a beautiful day; it’s a beautiful life fading away.”
Nathan doesn’t just sing poignant lyrics, he plays a mean guitar and can rock like the best of Southern Rockers, such as Lynrd Skynrd who he references in Southern Girl: “I got everything you want and everything you need, a little of sweet home Alabama . . .”
This is a musician whose jump back on board is to the good fortune of all of us who get the opportunity to hear him. In “The Nest (Go Slow)” he offers this advice to a young adult: “I remember standing in my own front door with one foot out and one foot in. So, go slow, but go.” With In Tune, On Time, Not Dead, Nathan does more than go slow, he goes full speed ahead.