The mysterious, sensuous '70s era of gold dust women and yellow brick roads never ended for Michael Nau — or at least that's the impression one's left with after listening to his gloriously vintage-tinged new LP, Some Twist.
Midway track "Scumways," for instance, is one of the most beautifully written and recorded songs of this year, even though it would have fit nicely onto any Baby Boomer's radio playlist for decades. Chalk that up to its grooving guitar and horn coupling, along with its echoing percussion and Nau's sultry singing, all of which make it sound like it's enchanted with a magic spell by Stevie Nicks. The spookily echoing vocals and overall yearning tone of "Done Wonder" evoke the tone and spirit of the Guess Who's "These Eyes," though its shuffling percussion, xylophone sprinkles and sparser arrangement give it a vibe all its own. Then there's the grinding guitar solo, teardrop piano, and earnestly hummable chorus of "Oh You Wanna Bet?" that all add up to a sound perfectly suited to Elton John fans.
That's not to say Nau is too indebted to these vintage muses. On the contrary; despite being rife with subtle little homages to a bygone era, Some Twist also sounds thrillingly fresh, due in no small part to Nau's songwriting chops, which make each tune endlessly catchy. Furthermore, the instrumental track, "Twelve," and the spooky vocal distortions on "Scatter," subvert the '70s in a bolder, more artsy fashion than the more straightforward numbers here.
Regardless, by incorporating vintage influences with so much skill, Nau channels yesterday's greats without ever lazily copying them. Instead, he transports you to way back when, then makes it sound of the moment. (Suicide Squeeze)