Album of the Day: Nassau, “Heron”
By Peter Lillis · September 21, 2017 Merch for this release:
Compact Disc (CD), Cassette

On Heron, the debut full-length album from Nassau, members Justin Wilcox and Jeffrey Silverstein look to the future with hope and calm reserve, using relaxed Americana and psychedelic sounds to amplify those emotions. Equal parts realism and romanticism, Heron guides the listener through the journey of life with a sense of poise and patience. While there is a destination in mind—a calm future, illustrated by a series of serene settings that crop up throughout the record—Nassau cherishes the voyage, and puts their faith in the natural goodness of the world.

Heron opens at the pace of a new mountain stream—alive and steady, but tranquil. “We all get lost…but over time we turn around,” sings Wilcox on “Over Time,” showcasing his overt optimism and fondness for natural imagery. Those two threads run throughout the record; later, on songs like “Whatever Brings You Peace of Mind” and “Risin’ Sun,” the duo dabble in Appalachian folk, electric and acoustic guitars floating and swirling like fallen leaves in the breeze. On “Champagne” and “Long Arc,” two of the album’s more rollicking tracks, the quicker pace injects a welcome enthusiasm into the proceedings.

Lyrically, Heron is fixated on transitions, natural and otherwise. There’s a palpable yearning—for resolution, or maybe simply order—throughout the record, but the songs never succumb to the anxiety of waiting. “Spring comes slowly don’t you know / Winter is over now you can go home,” Wilcox calmly sings on “Risin’ Sun.” The thaw comes again on the aptly-titled “Spring,” a song that starts with uncertainty (“Spring / I often wonder what you’ll bring”), ends with positivity and surrender (“Despite all my places to hide / You’ve always been kind”).

At Heron’s conclusion, the dreamy “Ain’t It Time,” we reach our destination, no longer looking forward, but embracing the power of the present. The chord change that arrives on the bridge captures the excitement of starting anew, but it’s immediately followed by a reversed guitar solo, suggesting that the past is never far. The song ends with the same warping guitars that open the album, completing the circle and starting the journey from the top. Ultimately, Heron is a song cycle in the truest sense, built on the understanding that life is on an unending loop of anticipation and resolve. Seasons change, we do too, and that’s a good thing.

Peter Lillis

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