Nathan Wiley High Low

Young Maritime singer-songwriter Nathan Wiley definitely turned some heads with his impressive 2002 debut, Bottom Dollar (Billboard named it one of its Ten Best Canadian CDs that year). Some of its promise is fulfilled with this sophomore outing. High Low is quite similar stylistically to its predecessor. Once again, Wiley co-produces and shows off his skill as a multi-instrumentalist, playing piano, organ, guitars, lap steel, banjo, and even glockenspiel. He has a melodic voice that manages to be both warm and a little haunting. It is oft reminiscent of that of great Australian songsmith Paul Kelly, while the pub-rock feel of the vigorous "Get Your Own" has a Nick Lowe feel. Good touchstones for an emerging artist. There's a nice mix of tempos and tones here, and Wiley's lyrics have a poetic side ("I've been waiting for the glass to crack, the sky to fall, the white to black"). This is a solid outing featuring more highs and lows, but it'd be good to see him recruit an outside producer along the lines of a Mitchell Froom or Jon Brion to propel him to the next level. (Sonic)