The work of Michael Nau often captures a temperamental magic — when the sun dips just below the horizon and the colors take a turn towards cooler greens. His recordings, though not overly adorned, drape his songs in a studio softness that’s often buffeted by some ace collaborators. His voice lays swooning in the velvet trappings that recall the ‘70s vocal treasures that spawned a golden age of honey-hued folk and singer-songwriter prominence. However, before any of his songs made it to the velour and vernal sounds of the finished project, they started as an idea alone at home. Nau has been capturing his songwriting process on tape for years, but the vaults have remained sealed up until now. With Demo Versions, 2014 to 2017 the songwriter lets us all behind the veil to hear how many of his well-loved songs began. The record is by turns sparse and affecting. Once the studio buffer is removed, the songs land like a private-press folk record cut on a budget, but that temperamental magic is still coursing through each one.
“Funny Wind,” in particular, is given a tender tread. The original is laced with a buttoned-up grace, but here Nau is unwound on the porch, letting the lyrics dance around the tape hiss. His voice comes through unfettered, but perhaps its tugging at the soul just a bit more because of it. The song quivers a bit more in its infancy. The final product still lands among the heartstrings, but the demo has a country crooner’s charm and a lingering sweetness that doesn’t quite come through as completely after the polish dries. Sometimes there’s just a perfect take, and this nails that feeling. The record lands this Friday on Suicide Squeeze.
Support the artist. Buy it HERE.