Nathan Lee – Risk Everything

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Nathan Lee - Risk Everything

There isn’t much anyone could tell Nathan Lee about either life or living it.  A writer and performer since his teens, his resumé is an ongoing tale of highs and lows, from lucrative publishing deals and business success to sleeping in his car, and back up and down again. “I sing to broken people because I am one” quotes his press release, while the burning piano that figures so prominently on the CD sleeve suggests that none of us, including Mr. Lee himself, are in for an easy 40 or so minutes listening.

So it’s something of a relief to hear the combined guitar harmonics and electronic percussion that introduce first track “Open Road”, a song built purposefully around a nervy piano riff that aslo encompasses some jagged guitar work, while a crashing drum part tells its own story. Nathan Lee’s voice is every bit as expressive as his keyboard playing, a bourbon and cigarettes growl that reflects those personal highs and lows mentioned earlier.

The sliding steel guitar intro of 2nd track “Hold Me Down” is abruptly cut in two by a sudden piano chord, leading into a bluesy chant that is very much Lee’s own manifesto. “Nobody’s gonna hold me down in this life” is the message, and a similar note of defiance – although of what or whom is never really touched upon – runs throughout the entire album. As does Lee’s own skill as a pianist which is shown to near-mesmeric effect on “Bring Down The Fire”, probably the albums most complex track and certainly its most imaginative.  Which isn’t to say there’s anything either dull or commonplace about the rest of Risk Everything. Very far from it indeed. “Beginning to believe I was the brother of the Mona Lisa” reminisces Lee over the crammed powerchordage of “Back To You” while the jaunty rhythms of “High Speed Low Drag” reveal his seemingly tireless keyboard intricacy with some style. Closing numbers “Still” and “Broke And Hollow Man” are perhaps more conventional sounding ballads, with particularly the latter of these recalling Tom Waits at his most lyrical.

A remarkable collection of songs, and performed with skill and innovation, Risk Everything really does sound as if Nathan Lee is giving us his all. It’s a committed performance that manages to avoid both overt sentiment or the glassy-eyed emptiness of the kind of large-scale music that relies on overpowering its audience to gain a response. Nathan Lee is a very real talent, and with Risk Everything, there’s less than any doubt he will receive the recognition he very much deserves.