It’s hard to predict the path a musician will take on the path to becoming a musician. Nathan
Evans Fox is no newcomer to music. He grew up in North Carolina to the sounds of country, bluegrass, folk, and gospel. He started playing violin at age four, and has also added guitar, piano, and other instruments to his repertoire.
However, you don’t find many musicians that were trained as a hospital chaplain like Fox was. As a chaplain, he was no stranger to grief. Recently, he’s had some grief of his own, including losing his grandmother and having his house damaged by a tornado shortly after moving to Nashville. No one wants to grieve, but his experiences lead to earnest songwriting on his new album Wasted Love where he is not afraid to pour out his heart.
“One of These Days” is an interesting song – at the forefront is a piano pop sound similar to Marc Cohn with a spare arrangement that creates a mood and makes you feel the weight of the lyrics. In the background, you hear some spacey sounds from a pedal steel. Part of what makes it interesting is trying to imagine the kind of venue in which you might encounter this song. A honky-tonk piano bar where a guy in a western shirt sits at a grand piano with the rest of the band in the background? The thing is, you don’t have to imagine such a place to appreciate how well done this song is.
Fox calls his music “cosmopolitan country” but does a good job of varying his sound from one song to another. “Mercedes Benz” is a song that might remind you of some of your favorite alt-country bands. The volume isn’t excessive, but it stands in stark contrast to the spare and hushed melody of its predecessor. It also features a banjo that is a good compliment to the sound of the guitar and the rhythm. “Lordhamercy” is another change in tone because it is more of a country soul song. It is a song with warm organ sounds at the fore, backed by a steady rhythm. To add to the soulful sound, the vocals are similar in delivery to Ray LaMontagne.
Being stuck is a recurring theme throughout the album that is easy to relate to since we have all felt stuck at some point in the last couple years. In “Carolina Boy”, he sings, “Just another lost Carolina boy / singing ‘stead of speaking in tongues / stranded out here in Tennessee / when Georgia got too rough.” “Damn Hard” also has something of a feeling of being stuck, but in a more desirable way. Fox sings that it’s hard to make any money as a musician, but it’s even harder to give it up. He caps that by singing, “Thank my stars it’s always come easy. Keepin’ ahead is damn hard.” The theme is also in “Good Trucks”. In it, he sings about the four walls making him punchy. He goes on to sing about holes in the landlord’s roof. Then he sings, “Now I’m stuck here and gotta live in it.”
The title track brings the album full circle back to the muted piano pop of the opener. With strings in the background, he plays piano and sings. It’s the simplicity of the melody that makes it that much more powerful when he sings, “Ain’t no such thing as wasted love.”
This is an album of beautiful heartfelt songs. Fox’s vocals are soulful and his lyrics paint pictures of which the listener feels a part. Wasted Love doesn’t waste so much as a note, making it an album that you can put on any time you need some positive vibes in your day.