Nathan Coles Outfit Twelve Upheavals That Brought the Redwoods to Flight

Like many of his contemporaries from Guelph, Ontario — Jim Guthrie, Royal City — Nathan Coles takes an unorthodox, impressionistic approach to roots music. On this first album with his full-time band since their live debut last summer, Coles leads them down a winding path of drastic mood swings and tempo shifts, but everything manages to hang together as a cohesive whole thanks to inspired performances by all involved. Don Kerr’s production keeps things spare in the classic Canadiana tradition, and it therefore shouldn’t be surprising that there are strong echoes of the Rheostatics on songs like "I Watch” and "Angry Eyed.” For Coles’ part, his voice is his biggest strength: a sad, tremulous instrument that at times bears a remarkable resemblance to Tim Hardin, as well as Will Oldham. For all of the album’s simple surface beauty, its many underlying subtleties require close attention to appreciate. But at least this shows that Coles is following his unique muse, which should provide a fruitful road ahead. (Independent)