After years of striving, Nathan Lawr has matured into a great songwriter, retaining a knack for hooks with his best band of Minotaurs while penning his most substantive lyrics to date. On previous efforts, Lawr has been content to play the adorably clever romance writer, charming his muses with edgy earnestness. That underlying sharpness surfaces more on A Sea of Tiny Lights, as Lawrs personal reflections have taken on a worldlier tone and he muddies up the trails leading to his infectious choruses. The standout track is "Footsteps, which employs a compelling groove and an abstracted blues vocal structure in exploring a harrowing narrative inspired by the ordeal of Canadian peace activist James Loney, who was captured in 2005 and held hostage in Iraq for over a year. Lawr is a gifted storyteller, able to articulate notions about this eras climate of aggression without clumsy blanket statements, zeroing in on nuanced interpersonal experiences instead. Long straddling a realm between pop and folk shared by the likes of Rufus Wainwright and Ron Sexsmith, Lawrs Minotaurs keep things like "The Glass and "If You Dont Believe Me bubbling with sophisticated rock dynamics, adding even more depth to this gorgeous collection of songs.
Youve shifted focus with these songs. Why?
I think theyre from the same body of work but I wanted to write songs based on more than my own emotions and relationships. Its maybe mainly because Im in a good relationship; I dont really feel the need to write about it so much! But yeah, the songs are more coherent in my mind.
This seems like a real band.
Even after the recording weve managed to stay together and its one of the best little units Ive had. The record reflects that, even though we didnt have a "lets be a band attitude at all. We didnt rehearse very much but theyd some familiarity playing together before, which helped.
Why did Jim Loneys situation resonate with you?
He has this commitment to attempting to understand the other person. For me, this lack of desire to understand the other side is why these conflicts start, and the story of one guy going through what he went through totally summed up the whole fucking thing. I actually got a random email from him and he said he thought the song was cool and that I should send him a CD. (Saved by Vinyl)