Review: Take a Trip Back in Time with Nat Myers’ Retro Acoustic Blues

Nat Myers
Yellow Peril
(Easy Eye Sound)
3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Videos by American Songwriter

Blues acoustic guitarist Myers may be young, but he has an old soul. From his itinerant lifestyle (Kansas born, then moving to West Tennessee and Northern Kentucky) to the retro-styled hat jauntily gracing his head, Myers has lived the part of the traveling singer/songwriter.

This is his debut full-length, but it reverberates with the sound of a deep bluesman from the 20s and 30s. The Korean-American’s sprightly unplugged picking is a combination of blues legends like Blind Boy Fuller, Charlie Patton’s mournful dirt road blues, Leadbelly’s crafty storytelling, and Blind Willie McTell’s dexterous plucking.

Kudos go to Black Keys frontman and Easy Eye label owner, Dan Auerbach, for finding Myers’ YouTube videos, inviting him to Nashville then pairing him with songwriting veterans Pat McLaughlin and kindred soul Alvin Youngblood Hart. Instead of recording these ten tunes in a studio, Auerbach set up the equipment in his sunroom at home providing a more natural, organic atmosphere. The results were captured over a brief three-day session. It was summertime and that hazy, muggy atmosphere is evident in the performance of tracks like “Pray for Rain,” using the weather as a metaphor for the inspiration of a budding relationship asserting I’ll be your ever-loving man for life.  

This could have been released by Smithsonian Folkways, Arhoolie, or Okeh labels in their prime. Myers is the personification of Hank Williams’ ramblin’ man, playing his music on a battered acoustic guitar and then moving on. But he’s willing to stay for the right woman as he explains in “Ramble No More,” singing If you let me in now baby, I won’t ramble no more. He also realizes that if she isn’t interested, he’ll have no choice but to ramble some more.  He’s got a “Heart Like a Scroll” too, imploring a potential romantic interest that his intentions are good as he picks and foot stomps through the tune.

Auerbach, no stranger to this decades-old approach, is credited with co-penning all but one selection.  Ry Cooder and Taj Mahal released a similarly styled album a few years back, so there may be an audience for this evocative and basic blues, sung and played from the heart, fighting it out in a high-tech marketplace where AI is writing EDM and Taylor Swift plays to stadiums.

Nat Myers may be aiming towards a niche, cult audience of retro blues listeners, but his music resonates with universal emotions that never go out of style.    

Photo courtesy Shore Fire Media

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