Nathan Moomaw


2008 (Gazebo Music)
songwriter, psych-folk

An album can come to life in the weirdest and most disparate ways. And if the idea of a work where song titles consist of the succession of months is not particularly innovative in itself, it may become not only interesting but even “original” thanks to an appropriate context and a unusual achievement.

On April 7, 2006 Nathan Moomaw turns twenty-six, and for the young Californian songwriter that day also represents the beginning of an ambitious project, that will involve him for twelve months in the drafting of twelve audio tracks. The achievement is fairly methodical, planning the online release of a song for each month of Nathan’s twenty-sixth year of life. Each song should be written and recorded in the corresponding month and finally released at the end of the same month.

The result of this patient and Carthusian work is “26”, an enchanting sequence of songs focused on folk sounds, which the scattered hints of psychedelia à-la Olivia Tremor Control do not distract from a gentle songwriting, leitmotif of the whole album.
The single tracks in “26” were originally released in free download on Moomaw’s website, each being accompanied by the original lyrics manuscript and a pastel-shaded coverart, designed by Nathan himself. About one year after the networking of the twelve songs, the entire work was officially released by Gazebo Music, a small concept-label based in San Francisco.

In the initial intentions, as it is easily deducible from the project itself, the songs included in this second work by Moomaw had to be totally unrelated to one another, without any sequential constraints except for the releasing chronological order: no stylistic planning, no gender restriction, no theme reorganization.
In the end, even though the album is exclusively based on contingent inspiration, the sequence of songs is rather appropriate and fluent, probably because, modelled on the succession of seasons, “26” has developed its own individuality and, overcoming any well-thought formal barrier, it seems to almost move around following the rhythms dictated by nature.

The album is based on soft and mild atmospheres, particularly highlighted by a light and never invasive guitar arrangement: in some moments it results in a gentle and melancholic picking (“July”, “August”, “December”), in other ones it becomes a full-bodied awakening into country-folk blinks (“April”, “September”), then it plays hide-and-seek with percussion, accordion and ukulele, alternately standing aside or overtopping them (“May”, “November”, “January”), until it finds itself surprised into a blinding whirlwind of eighties-tasting basses in “October”, the only song that in a rather unexpected and marked way departs from the rest of the album, even entering a dance-pop territory.
Nathan’s enchanting voice, smirkingly slipping on the warmer tones or climbing with no malice on the higher ones, spreads on the so obtained varied carpet of sounds, almost slavishly following the “climate” fluctuations of melodies.

Elephant 6 collective’s ghost manifests itself through the use of several background noises and uncommon instruments, and among the latter ones a special mention surely goes to the singing saw, that floats on the songs with its spectral timbre, veiling them with a vaguely obscure aura (“May”, “June”). However, while these dispersed instrumental raids represent a distinctive and rather intriguing mark, perhaps the most interesting aspect of the Elephant 6 contamination is the overall mood in the album: “26”, in fact, almost seems to simbiotically live with the nature from which it draws inspiration, and this same feeling is often perceived in many of the Athens collective’s works, although in Nathan’s songs this relationship is lived in a more elegiac and gently bucolic way, as underlined by the simple poetry of the lyrics.

Apart from mentioning the passing of the seasons and its influence on Moomaw’s songwriting, in order to rationally explain the above mentioned feeling one could also suggest a space-time correlation with the Californian songwriter’s childhood, spent “in the woods of western Massachusetts near an apple orchard”, isolated from the city chaos and lulled by his father Mark’s guitar.
But feelings can hardly find an escape route into rationalization: they should be intensely lived as they are, without claiming to understand them in depth. And this is why, perhaps, the best way to fully appreciate the charm of an album like “26” is to completely lapse into it, without any mental reservation.



  1. April
  2. May
  3. June
  4. July
  5. August
  6. September
  7. October
  8. November
  9. December
  10. January
  11. February
  12. March

Nathan Moomaw sul web