Double bassist/singer-songwriter Nat Baldwin’s forthcoming album People Changes is much like the stark Maine setting which it was created. Of course, his fourth full-length shows welcome markings of his experimental bent from years as the Dirty Projectors bassist and former disciple of free jazz legend Anthony Braxton, but the serene isolation of 17 million acres of New England forestland make this cabin-born set intimate and sincere.
Baldwin first penned the songs in 2007, allowing the arrangements to evolve before the final recording in the spring of 2010. A lean ensemble of talented, time-proven friends was enlisted for the studio--some dating back to his New Hampshire childhood--chosen specifically to create the album’s earnest live sound. Their apt decision to record voice and bass live on most tracks is quickly felt on opener “A Little Lost,” letting Baldwin’s softly warbled falsetto hug a heartfelt cover of Arthur Russell’s sacred love song. Woodwinds flit and pull against contrabass pulses on “Weights,” then recede to let Baldwin’s bare performance stir on “Real Fakes.” The full cast of Nat’s touring ensemble handsomely match the bold arrangements of “Lifted,” followed by jagged improvisation on “What Is There” and a tender rendition of Kurt Weisman’s “Let My Spirit Rise” to finish. Charged throughout by lyrics crisp and strong, People Changes is a slice through the void of late nights spent among tall pines.
People Changes was recorded by Matt Walsh at Florida Keys Studio in New York City in May/June 2010, mixed by Scott Solter, and mastered by Paul Gold at Salt Mastering. Guests include Matt Bauder (clarinets), Caley Monahon-Ward (violin), Brett Deschenes (trumpet), Will Glass (drums), Al Mead (guitar) and Jeremy Leclair (alto saxophone). The album follows A Split EP with Extra Life (2008, Shatter Your Leaves) on which earlier versions of “Weights” and “Lifted” appear, Most Valuable Player (2008), Enter the Winter (2006) and Lights Out EP (2005) on Broken Sparrow Records, and his experimental free jazz debut Solo Contrabass (2003, Peacock Recordings).