If you’d have drawn a direct line between the C86 lilt of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, the headspun hugeness of the last days of Britpop, and ‘70s deep cuts from Richard Thompson, Tom Petty, Dylan, and Springsteen, I’d once have said that its a stretch. Yet here we are with the debut from The Natvral and those lines all start to intersect as Kip Berman finds his breath on the streets of suburbia — threading family, freedom, success, and failure into a narrative that shapes midlife. For as stylized as his past works have been, finding themselves thrust into the clothes of his influences, this record feels like it was made from the feel rather than the form. The songs pour out of Tethers, stretching from the barroom singalong of “New Year’s Night,” to the tender confessions of “New Moon.” It sits alongside those aforementioned ‘70s staples, not because it aims to, but because its culled from the same conflicted corners of life.
The gauze had begun to wear away by the time the last Pains records were released, the early Creation cues burning away for a more straightforward pop. Though nothing could have predicted The Natvral more than Berman’s complete cover of Full Moon Fever in 2018. It was a peek into the classic sounds that were already beginning to resonate more with nights that shifted from the bar crawls of youth to a home studio hermitage, hushed to keep the kids asleep. There’s not a moment on Tethers that couldn’t float over a quiet night on the deck, eyes to the waxed moon, breath just beginning to curl on the air. It’s a record of transition, but also one of acceptance. We’re not who we thought we’d be, but that’s hardly ever the case, is it? Whether or not you recognize the reflection, the heart hangs on, and sometimes its the small moments that let it heal.
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