An exodus from the sweet emotionalism of his former albums, Nate Currin takes listeners over to the flipside with the hard truth on his fourth studio album The Madman and The Poet.
The first six tracks on the album are both the sparklers of the album and a foray into unchartered territory for Currin and his audience. Dubbed “The Madman” portion of the album, Currin captures an 80’s southern-hard-rock feel characteristic of George Thorogood, particularly on the track “Midnight Train.”
However some of the lyrics, while catchy, feel slightly amiss and garden variety for Currin, who is known for his literary prowess and concept albums. This is illustrated on “City of Angels,” the second track on the album, a melancholy tune about trying to make it in L.A. and yearning for perfection. It is very much a pale nod to Springsteen’s plight of the working man, only the lyrics don’t resonate. The idea for his 2013 release,The Pilgrim, originated from the book Pilgrims Progress by John Bunyan. Similarly, The Madman and the Poet was designed to be listened to in two parts; the first six songs, rooted in electric guitar, and which have a darker and edgier feel, are supposed to represent “The Madman”, while the second six songs, which are reminiscent of Currin’s older work, are more emotional and embody “The Poet.”
This tactic feels a little schticky and Currin’s narrative is strong enough to stand out on its own without it. Besides, aren’t madmen and poets one in the same? Perhaps this is a clever ploy to engage the listener though it results in a confusing and abrupt genre swap halfway through the album.
Other mentionables are the cinematic “Ballad of a Horse Thief” and a return to Currin’s roots in the poignant ballad “Let Grace Fall Down on Me.”
Of all of the journeys Currin has taken, this one is perhaps the most significant relative to personal growth. He dared to stretch and produce something out of his comfort zone on this album and the songs have the potential to reach an entirely different fan base. In true Currin fashion, he makes a valiant attempt to weave tales of love, reflection, travel and roots.