Rivulets – You Are My Home

Rivulets
You Are My Home

Being the third full-length album by solo artist Nathan Amundson as the Rivulets, this debut on Important Records is a strong showing. Where the recording on the two previous albums had a rougher feel, You Are My Home sounds a bit more clean and polished. But, not too polished as to take away the rawness that give the Rivulets a bit of character.

As minimalist tunes from a singer/songwriter goes, this is certainly some of the better music out there today. Following bands like Low and Red House Painters, Amundson has a talent for creating songs that only use what is necessary to create specific moods and nothing more. With the core focusing on Amundson’s shaky voice and his rough acoustic guitar, there are many different sounds added to the mix from a full cast. The additions of cello, viola and piano help to add some depth to the album. Without these additional distractions, I’m afraid the album would quickly become incredibly dull. There are several occasions where the guitar chords and double-tracked vocals sound awfully similar to other parts of the album. This can be dodged when there is differing accompaniment, but without it the songs would fall flat. This isn’t to say Amundson isn’t talented on his own but rather just not diverse enough.

Another thing this album has over his previous album, Debridement is the focus more on heartbreak rather than depression and being wounded. This time around it’s more a feeling of sadness and then picking oneself up and moving on. Although, it’s often difficult to tell exactly what the words in the story are since they can be hard to understand at times. However, in songs like “Motioning” it’s easy to understand with lines like “Come back to me” that he is hoping to restore a love he once had. The brief piano towards the end provides a hint of optimism and this track shows the listener an immediate connection to what he is trying to say. Most of the time the songs feel deeply personal but in a way that is more up for interpretation.

There are many jewels on this album like the slow-burning title track, the starkly pinching “Win Or Lose” and the brewing storm of “Can’t I Wonder”. Even among the beautifully executed lyrics and perfectly placed instruments there are a few areas where Amundson has tried to insert some noise filler – like some unnecessary bits in the title track and in “You Are My Home” that can become an annoyance. But, this is really my only complaint with this album.

At different points throughout the album Amundson’s voice sounds like a more haunting Sufjan Stevens, but not all the time. His voice often shakes a little as if he is emotions are coming out through his lines. With songs like “Heartless” and the lines “How could you say that? You must be heartless to say that” accompanied by only an acoustic guitar and a viola, the mood here is torn – as if you could easily see the situation unfolding before your very eyes. Amundson is an artist that truly understands the principals of minimalism and how to use it to create just the right mood.