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Nathaniel Street West

About Nathaniel Street West: Somewhere in Malibu, in a living room overlooking the ocean, a miracle transpired last November.
What else could you call it when Mark Howard, one of the most respected engineers and producers in the business, with credits that include Bob Dylan, U2, and R.E.M., drives down from the desert on little more than a hunch and moves his studio into the home of an artist he barely knows?
And what do you call it when some of the top session players, from up-and-coming stars like Alanis Morissette’s keyboardist Zack Ray to legends on the level of Jim Keltner, come to that same house and, in just one week, begin and finish an album of that artist’s extraordinary songs?
Call it a miracle if you like, but the real miracle is in the mind, the hands, and the voice of Nathaniel Street-West, who takes a big step toward greatness with that album, Witness.
Like landmark albums of years past, Witness is a live document, recorded by great players gathered into one room, feeding from each other’s energy and from the fountain of Street-West’s brilliant material.
Like the best of today’s releases, it’s tuned to a modern sensibility, alive with images that tumble through surreal streams of consciousness or pare down to the essence of anger and fear and wounded love.
There are epics on Witness, like “Debra,” a story of shattered beauty that bewilders as it enlightens, like a beacon in a house of mirrors. And there are moments of abbreviated eloquence, like “Road of Life,” which is here and suddenly gone, like the song’s picture of a jet plane that’s borne love away.
There’s plenty of space in this music – space for Street-West’s guitar to drip, rich and honeyed, through the dreamy shades in “Flowers of Summer,” or for his voice to quake and break with anguish in “Coldness Follows.”  A song that Keltner said, “really got to me.  I immediately connected to a person in my life who is meaningful to me.  When art touches you where you feel that strongly, it doesn’t get any better.   It’s what it is all about”
The emptiness, as much as sounds, that fills Witness, speaks from Street-West’s soul – and every moment that’s heard, every silence that’s felt, announces the arrival of a visionary, one whose music can change the listener’s world.

Before it all came to pass, Street-West poured through his record collection to find the ideal producer for what he was trying to convey. His search led him to one of his favorite albums, Bob Dylan’s Time out of Mind. There, in the engineering credits, he found Mark Howard’s name. A cold call was made, and – miraculously – Howard showed up at Street-West’s home in Malibu.
“We talked about anything and everything,” Street-West recalls. “I told him my history. He talked a little about himself. I think we both sensed that it was fate and good timing that brought us together.”
At Howard’s request, Street-West burned some samples of his songs – 57, to be exact – onto discs and sent them to his home up in Joshua Tree. Howard poured through them all and replied with the message Street-West was hoping to hear: “We can make a record.”
“The songs he chose were the ones that had my best lyrics,” Street-West says, “including a few that I hadn’t finished yet, which surprised me. And each of them tells a story – which wasn’t a surprise, because Mark told me in our first conversation, ‘Above everything else, I’m drawn to lyrics with a story in them.’”
“For me, great songs are journeys,” Howard confirms. “I’ve worked with some of the greatest songwriters alive today, and Nathaniel writes as they do in that his songs give me visions, just like reading a book. You feel that you’re in a dark place, or in a desert; wherever it might be, his songs take me there.”)
"The sound of the album evolved,” Howard explains. “The whole record is a voyage, with amazing textures that take you into different worlds. Just like some of my favorite albums, Witness has songs that each sound cool in their different ways and yet, strangely, they also connect.”)
“It was incredible, how it all came together,” Street-West agrees. “I’ve never heard a bass player get the kind of tone that Daryl Johnson gets. And Jim Keltner came up with the most amazing drum parts. (Keltner, for his part, says “I was really knocked out by the maturity of Nathaniel’s guitar playing; his approach is unique “He’s a very old soul,” says Keltner.
 “His journey is just beginning …”

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