A rambling rhythm comes crashing through the silence on the back of a stomping drum track in the title track of the new Nathan King album All Eyes on You. The growl of an overdriven guitar challenges it for sonic supremacy a couple of songs later in “Run It Down.” It’s hard to shake the grinding grooves of “No Stopping Us Now” once they’ve entered your headspace, but then again, the same could be said for “Redneck,” “I Don’t Drink Like I Used To,” “Outskirts In,” and really all ten of the tunes that adorn the tracklist of this engaging LP. King pulls out the stops in this record to deliver a chest-pounding rock n’ roll energy alongside a homespun country grit that stands out even in the crowded talent pool that Nashville has been enjoying as of late.
There’s so much passion in the vocal track that drives “Run It Down,” “425” and “Teal,” and to a great extent, the master mix makes each of these songs feel like a live performance instead of mere studio recordings. Save for the layered “Just One Night” and “Last First Kiss,” all of the tracks here have an amazing reverb attached to their boldest instrumental elements, and while some instances (“No Stopping Us Now,” the title track) leave a more potent impression than others (“I Don’t Drink Like I Used To”), none of this material feels out of place, rushed or thrown together in a last ditch effort to fill out the album.
“Run It Down,” the country/metal number “Redneck,” the pummeling “No Stopping Us Now” and exotic “Last First Kiss” are all about their instrumental intricacies, while “Outskirts In,” “Just One Night,” “I Don’t Drink Like I Used To,” “Teal” and “425” are a bit more focused on the lyrics. It’s pretty rare to find a country album that has as many tracks devoted to the full-bodied sound of the band more than they are the content of their words as All Eyes on You contains, but that’s part of the reason why I think it’s such a gem. I’ve listened to some excellent country music in the last few months, but other than this record, I can’t recall hearing an LP that was as robustly arranged, nor as jam-packed with substance, as Nathan King’s latest is.
Relentlessly multidimensional, as expressive from a textural standpoint as it is a lyrical one, cosmetically enticing and riddled with a rock n’ roll tonality that is a cut above the rest, Nathan King’s All Eyes on You is a must-listen for fans of both country and pop music this spring, as it sports more contagious grooves, mountainous melodies and inspired hooks than almost anything else I’ve heard out of the American underground. You don’t have to be a huge country enthusiast to appreciate the grandiosity of tracks like “Run It Down,” “Redneck,” “Outskirts In” and “No Stopping Us Now,” but for those of us who have been itching for some fresh fodder to contrast with the new Nashville sound, it doesn’t get much better than this.