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Album Review: Grand Nathaniel “At The Lagoon”

Grand Nathaniel is one J Burton, an artist who settled on the name by way of it first going by Grand Nathaniel and the Ghosts, with a more progressive approach. The difference is a lighter and more pop style with an 80s throwback vibe on the current release of At The Lagoon. The record comes with eight consistent songs with Burton pulling everything together for what is a world class collection with retro values but of the modern contemporary sort. These songs are a world apart from the previous work I have heard from Burton, and they might even be some of his best to date.

Talk about eye opener’s, At The Lagoon opens with “Bright Eyes” and it is a cool ride through some synth laden music, as if the 80s musically just fell right back into our laps. The track itself impresses beyond any vocal and lyrics factors, with Burton essentially complimenting a very techno appreciated backing track. The words tend to follow without getting in the way of a great tune, the same way bands like Duran Duran were good for, once upon a time. This opening cut speaks volumes itself for the entire price of admission.

The album continues in a very-familiar fashion by keeping you in that 80s zone and not losing the listener to a fluke in the opening song. “Lady Bug” is so likeable it is remarkable as it flows by and stays with the tempo and groove. This has a Beatle’s pop value combined with a modern twist that just won’t quit as it is good for several spins before you hear the next track. But the third track is a brilliant piece of work that goes over the top with “Nightbird,” making for one of the best cuts I’ve heard in 2020.

It is also amazing how the tracks read with “Stronger” being the next one, as they happen to get exactly that as they play in succession via the very clever track arrangement. I really can’t fault anything about Burton, and I find At The Lagoon to be extremely satisfying and I also give it top marks along with the author himself for sheer songwriting skills.

“Sunday Drivin” helps around the middle of the album by going more descriptive with some excellent lyrics that keep it interesting and hold its place on the disc with a song about going through hell together on a Sunday. This is told through a drive because it resembles one, and it results in one of the best tracks on At The Lagoon. “Radioman” is probably the most diverse and accessible track, but all are seriously on par together. “Penny” is a good luck song that could not be more-timely placed as well, with its pleading pop vocals, and the set closes with the wonderful “Come Back” explaining it all in the beautiful words. This album fills more than the 2020 void, it puts that 80s memory where it belongs by retaining core values.

Loren Sperry

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