If your familiar with any of Nathan Seeckts’ older works, the first thing you notice is the big step up in production quality, the sound on this album is much fuller; his voice and acoustic guitar accompanied this time round by more electric, bass, drums and even strings, with everything arranged perfectly in its place.
The album opens super strong, on my personal highlight of the album with ‘Old Blood’. It tells a super vivid story of a young man looking for fame, and losing himself after he becomes a local hero, but before he makes it big beyond. The lyric ‘the only stars ‘round here play football’ is an awesome one, very pertinent to any Australian country town. The song also has a nice jangly beat, the electric riff is cool with a melancholic feel to it, and the earnestness in Seeckts’ voice is palpable, the latter which, to me, is the strongest aspect to all his songs throughout the album.
After a couple of bigger sounding tracks in the first quarter of the album, it strips back and quietens on ‘Moonlight Creek’, to just guitar and vocals, accompanied by some strings. The track is a tear-jerking tale of a young woman being murdered in a country town and the events aftermath.
‘All Night, Hold Tight’ is a big song, the lyric “the devil he’s taking cues from me, but he won’t take these blues from me” is awesome, just before the sound fills right out into a swaying country rock ballad.
‘Thunder and Rain’ is a faster pace one, with a cool muddy sounding electric guitar bellow the acoustic, and the hook is fun and catchy. ‘Three Soldiers’ is another one with incredibly poignant lyrics, that does really well to capture the strength of those best-friendships you’d have as kids, and the sadness of how hard it is to connect with people like that as an adult.
The penultimate song on the album is another highlight; ‘Whiskey Drunk’, the liquid that may be required by law to be mentioned on any country or blues album ever created. It’s a pretty sad song about alcoholism, but the harmonica throughout is super cool sounding.
The Heart Of The City is a really strong album from Nathan Seeckts. It’s cool to get to hear him with a bigger studio sound, with electric guitars and different instruments in the mix, but at the end of the day, the guy is a storyteller, and it’s his vivid lyricism delivered by his gravel-filled-yet-emotional voice that’ll get you into this album.
Reviewed by Liam McNally