Michigan indie-folk musician, Nathan K. (real name Nathan Klages) is back with a new album called “Dishes”, slated for release on the 26th. He is currently on the Warped Tour as a full-time member of Grand Rapids electro-pop group Stepdad.

Check out this review of “Dishes”.

Recorded the previous winter on a 4-track recorder in the waiting room of the hospital where his grandfather was dying (who has since passed on), “Dishes” has a nervous yet expectant feel to it. On a re-worked version of a previous song, “Ghosts”, Klages sings with a warbly falsetto among drum loops and acoustic guitar chimes. “For your own good”, the album’s opener, he sings “I really should try to relax/For my own good”, has an eerie, self-assured feel to it as knowing the record’s back story. The most personal song on the album, “Hospital Walls”, he sings “I was working on a great big painting to give my grandpa as a gift/But he died one cold, dark evening so I threw it in the ditch”, exposing Klages’ some feelings about his grandfather’s passing.

The instrumentation on the album is a bit repetitive but considering the circumstances in which the album was recorded, I’ll give that a pass. He does his best to liven up the instruments on occasion; on “Leave Them”, there’s a light, omnipresent hand clap that adds a bit of rhythm. “Hospital Walls” is really lush and warm, featuring strings along with his voice and many layers of his guitar. The guitar line on “Criminal” is really cool; it feels like a pendulum, swinging back and forth while a banjo lightly plucks.

This album is only nine tracks and I do think his re-worked version of “Ghosts” should have been left off the album. His backing unbearably high falsetto is something I could do without. I’m sure he’s getting better at hitting the high notes. He just needs a little more focus and he’ll have it down next time. I did like the drum beat on it; shows the influence Stepdad has had on his songwriting. If only he brought a few more of those elements into the album, I think I could discern a few of the songs. A lot of the tracks have the same feel to them; instrumentation, vocals, etc. I guess it’s the nature of the folk/singer-songwriter genre. Good songs but just stuff I’ve heard before from him. A little diversity and/or approach next time would be great.

His lyrics are great, telling stories with a passionate energy. The imagery gets in your head. Great stuff on that front. The instrumentation, while limited, does its best to work with the lyrics. Maybe he’ll stick to a style like this next time (hey, I can’t blame him, he’s great at it), but to push his songs to a new level, a wider array of  instrumentation is definitely needed.

Pre-order the album here. Pick up the album when it comes out at the same link.