It's been just over half a year since Nathan Quick's last offering, The Mile. That album was a jangling, poetic affair that was fun to listen to, but City Lights is a whole different animal. If The Mile was a big dog, then what we have here is a wolf.
Honestly, it's more single than EP, with "City Lights" and only two tracks to back it up. That aside, they make a hell of a trio as Quick takes his voice into previously uncharted territory. He sounds like he should be singing over the opening credits of a grindhouse flick about chicks with guns. Comparing his rough crooning wail to an L.A. Woman-era Jim Morrison is just barely an exaggeration, and combined with his road-song approach to everything, it's hypnotic.
"City Lights" also shows off one of my favorite aspects of Quick: He doesn't play guitar solos. Well, he does, but not solos that someone who grew up with a poster of Slash on his wall would call proper guitar solos. Instead they are these shade-throwing bits of aggressive noodling that let you know that while Quick isn't going to bust out a three-minute solo that will blister paint, he totally could if he felt it.
The song that's closest to his previous work is "Dusk 'til Dawn." Here's something I've never celebrated in a recording before; I've never heard a snare sound quite like the one here. I had the song blasting in my earbuds as I was doing a bit of housework, and the first pop of the snare I actually took them out because I thought there had been a fender-bender outside or a cat had toppled the TV. It's the backhanded metal clang that goes right through you, lending menace to the comparatively slow track.
Now, I do have to say that Quick probably won't go down in music history as the most inventive lyricist in the world. He spins a fine phrase, don't get me wrong, but his subjects are kind of safe and tropey even if they ooze sin and evil with every step. He's more like the world's best Sam Peckinpah film in song form. It's a comfortable darkness in addition to a danceable one.
Nothing sums that up better than the closer, "Just Hold On." It's a largely clichéd collection of observations about feeling adrift and lost, but it's so solidly executed you can't help but dig it. Solid really is the best way I can describe Quick's three-song rolling stone here. It's big and there and unsubtle as it can possibly be. It's also unstoppably fun to listen to, a true Texas citizen of the music scene.
You're going to want it on hand the next time you need a sound track to get into trouble by.
Nathan Quick releases City Lights tonight at Fitzgerald's with Color Gravity, The Caldwell and Ruckus. Doors open at 8 p.m.
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