There is a lot going on in Nate Paladino’s new EP, Good Boy, which was released in early November. This is the second release from Paladino, a more quiet and introspective work than his debut Like a Nail in Your Head. Good Boy still has plenty of Paladino’s classic musical style, but rather than being very blues-centric and similar to Jack White or Arctic Monkeys like his first record, this sophomore offering mixes up do-wop, blues, classic rock and 70’s soul. Good Boy thus creates a new take on several classic styles rather than just one or two, and adds an indie sensibility with thoroughly modern lyrics and vocal timbre.
Nate Paladino clearly has a love for the blues, and it features heavily in Good Boy, just as it did in Like a Nail in Your Head. He gained a loyal following with his first album, but it may have put the singer/songwriter in with a crop of blues and jazz-infused indie musicians such as The White Stripes, The Raconteurs, The Black Keys and The Cold War Kids, albeit with a James Dean rebel flare. It would seem with his new EP, Paladino wishes to strike out in a new direction, or at least show listeners that he is more diverse and has more staying power than the current indie fad.
Orange County, where Nate Paladino is based, is not normally a place music fans would associate with blues or soul, but that doesn’t seem to stop him from writing powerful and soulful songs. While guitar is his main instrument, he also played bass and drums on his previous album. For Good Boy, Paladino has conscripted a number of musicians for bass, drums, and backing vocals. He normally tours with Frank Fermi and John Hykas, from whom he says he is thankful to have live support.
The five-song EP Good Boy is packed with Nate Paladino’s favorite influences. His main aim, he says, is to have the effective storytelling ability of Nick Cave or Leonard Cohen. Indeed, his lyrics are honest and poetic and may remind listeners of some other great lyrical storytellers like Jackson Browne or Elvis Costello. Some of the rhythms and compositional structure, such as in the second track on the album, Buy Your Heart also mirror Jackson Browne. His vocal tone seems very similar to that of Ray Davies of The Kinks, and different musical styles abound in the backing tracks. One song is heavy on the do-wop and early rock, reflecting Elvis or the E-Street Band, while the next is more indie blues and folk. There is a myriad of musical styles on Good Boy, but all of them are expertly crafted and merge with each other for an interesting fusion take on all of the classic musical genres which now make up modern indie rock.
While Nate Paladino’s lyrics mimic the great storytellers of rock and blues, they take place in a very modern vernacular and some deal with subject matter that would have been off-limits as recently as the 80s. His storytelling is gruff and honest, but many of the songs still have a timeless quality. I’ll Be Gone, for example, is classic both in sound and subject. Paladino showcases his unique take on the steel guitar, playing it in a classic blues fashion while coaxing interesting, almost eastern sounds from it. The lyrics are about romance gone wrong, a well-traveled blues subject but Paladino’s story is still engaging and audiences will find themselves hanging on his every word.
Both Good Boy and Like a Nail in Your Head are available to stream on Nate Paladino’s Soundcloud page, and Good Boy is available to purchase on his Bandcamp page or via itunes. New fans can compare the largely blues-influenced first album to this more diverse EP and see that Paladino is not a one-trick pony and will most likely continue to expand his sound. Listeners who already know his work will love that his characteristic storytelling and excellent guitar work are still there, but also delight in the new kinds of music he explores. It is a great balance between the foundation Paladino laid in the first album and his desire to show his diverse musical chops. Nate Paladino is currently touring with his band in support of Good Boy, mostly around Orange County and Los Angeles.
Review by Layla Klamt