Thursday, May 22, 2008

Nat Baldwin - Most Valuable Player

Nat Baldwin
Most Valuable Player
(04.2008, Broken Sparrow)
Verdict = Living up to his album title

I have been anticipating Most Valuable Player for some time since becoming infatuated with Nat Baldwin's debut EP, Lights Out, and then his debut full length, Enter the Wind, a couple years back. The thick double bass and emotive croon seem custom fitted to my tastes: gorgeous, amiable, left field pop. I actually downloaded four tracks from Nat Baldwin’s Myspace page two years ago that were, as of then unreleased, that have shown up retooled here on MVP. The result is a testament to the time taken refining these time tested tracks. MVP soars magnificently as an avant pop masterpiece. Baldwin’s approach here is similar to past efforts where his voice and double bass have taken the forefront, focusing on the skeletal beauty of his compositions. Consequentially, the songs feel immediately personable, as if they were being played specifically for you in your bedroom. It is this intimacy that really allows MVP to flourish. Despite his individual proficiency, Baldwin has also wrangled in support from Dave Longstreth, whom he has played with in The Dirty Projectors. Longstreth’s guitar, still brimming from its use in Rise Above, adds to the already present similarities between the two artists. Baldwin also takes production assistance from Grizzly Bear’s Chris Taylor on MVP which bears his most polished sound to date. The assistance never seems to cloud Baldwin’s original intent as demos I’ve had of “Dome Branches,” “Black Square,” “One Two Three” and De-Attached” come full circle. Baldwin has even tacked on a reimagination of previously recorded track “Enter the Light Out” with mesmerizing results. All and all, the time spent on MVP reaps the benefits of a lush, meticulously refined album that it worthy of the highest regard, and while almost completely opposite in its approach to pop music, MVP is probably the greatest rival to Subtle’s ExitingARM in the race for best album of the year.

-Mr. Thistle

Nat Baldwin - "Lake Eerie"

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