Nathan Lawr The Heart Beats A Waltz

Guelph drummer Nathan Lawr makes the leap from behind the kit for his first solo effort, and it’s a spectacular collection of rootsy, heartfelt tunes that showcase Lawr as a gifted songwriting talent. Most such transitions are enthusiastic but unremarkable, of the "don’t quit your day job” variety — especially considering that his day jobs have included beat-keeping duties for the who’s who of the Guelph scene (Royal City, Jim Guthrie, Constantines, Microbunny, King Cobb Steelie). But here Lawr harnesses an instinct in the tradition of Canadiana like the Skydiggers, occasionally dipping a toe in Tom Waits waters. His musical backdrop — captured like a miracle by Canada’s Steve Albini, Andy Magoffin — is simple and spare; Lawr’s ambitions spring from the pen more than the arrangements. Although the influence of his former band-mates shines through in spots, The Heart Beats A Waltz is a collection less surreal than Aaron Riches’ Royal City, more straightforward than Jimmy Guthrie, and less naked and heartbroken than Gentleman Reg. But Lawr has joined these cohorts in creating an addition to the recent canon of Canadian classics that will stand the test of time. (Independent)