with Nathaniel Riley
Tuesday, March 5, 2024
Doors 7 | Music 8
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West of It All, the debut album from Americana folk-rock band Briscoe, is a coming-of-agesoundtrack set against the backdrop of the Texas Hill Country. Written in the Lone Star State andrecorded in North Carolina, it's an album that charts its own musical geography, with productionfrom Grammy nominee Brad Cook (Bon Iver, Waxahatchee, Nathaniel Rateliff & The NightSweats) and adventurous songwriting that bridges the gap between classic American roots musicand its modern-day incarnation.

From free backyard performances on the outskirts of UT Austin's campus to sold-out gigs at Antone's Nightclub and The Continental Club Gallery, Briscoe's growth — like the group's music itself — has been organic. Bandmates Truett Heintzelman and Philip Lupton met as teenagers, reunited as students at UT Austin, and built their grassroots following the old-school way: by carving out a sound that nodded to the golden era of folk, rock, and pop music, then getting onstage and building a genuine relationship with their audience. Signed by ATO Records while still pursuing undergraduate degrees, the Texas natives wrote West of It All as graduation loomed in the distance, funneling the stories of their college experience — from heartbreak to hard-won lessons to weekend trips into the rural countryside — into a raw, rugged blend of classic and contemporary influences.

With contributions from drummer Matt McCaughan (Bon Iver) and multi-instrumentalist Phil Cook (Megafaun, Hiss Golden Messenger), West of It All offers a singular version of genre-fluid folk music, from rootsy rave-ups like "The Well" to brainy, literary songs like "Sparrows." It's a self-assured album that follows no directions but its very own, stacked organic performance and sharp songwriting that negotiates the transition from adolescence to adulthood.

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Nathaniel Riley

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Nathaniel Riley, a folk singer/songwriter from South Dakota, put in his time working the small family farm and recording melancholic melodies in his basement. Treading with years of grief that constructed a cloud full of songs that Nathaniel lugged to Colorado began the process of his debut full length album, "Bird Songs"

Nathaniel's songscapes lean on your heartstrings, unpacking melodies like a nostalgic lucid dream. Acoustically driven, wistful lyricism and ambient instrumentation provide the bedrock for his contemporary folktales. Compiling miles of desolation, heartache, introspection and memories of the forest and the prairie's whistle that convey him to persist. Empowering his songs their role, to be a beacon on the hill.

The sound and songs arrived abundantly, easily and honestly. Nathaniel began recording his album "Bird Songs," with Aaron Youngberg at Swingfingers Recording Studios in Fort Collins, Colorado in September of 2020.

Darren Garvey came on as a producer for the record, bringing a grass-roots perspective and an experimental, contemporary ear.

"I always loved pushing the boundaries of genres and wanted to create something familiar to myself in a couple different ways. One of which was to bring ambient ethereal sounds to the record that may not be commonly found on records claiming to be primarily folk," says Riley.

"I love the process of recording and the almost immortal aspect it provides," Riley says. "You will forever hear the person's skin on the strings, the breath before they sing. Living proof of somebody being alive, and it remains there, like a little memory box of sound forever. Itself, never changing."