It's safe to say that New York City's Neil Nathan is a fan of Detroit music. So it was only natural for the guitar man to travel to Detroit Rock City to record his debut LP, The Distance Calls, set for release August 24th, 2010. Nathan reached out to Bobby Harlow, a member of the seminal Detroit garage-rock group The Go (Jack White appeared on their Sub Pop release) to produce his debut full-length album. “Bobby Harlow is one of my favorite singer/songwriter/producers and I trusted him completely,” gushes Nathan. So to the “D” he went, where Harlow collected some of the Motor City’s finest rock musicians as Nathan’s backing band. The all-star lineup included Dean Fertita (The Dead Weather, QOTSA), Kenny Tudrick and Joey Mazzola (Detroit Cobras), John Krautner (The Go), and Ross Westerbur (Deadstring Brothers).
Recorded and mixed at acclaimed Tempermill Studios in 10 days, The Distance Calls effortlessly merges jangly pop rock with Nathan’s mellower singer/songwriter side. With a dash of NYC glitter and some good old Detroit fuzz and stomp, it showcases a musician clearly influenced by the ‘70s (without being cliché). “This is the first record I’ve done where there’s a balance to my sound. Bobby was able to successfully marry my harder rock side with the singer/songwriter in me,” says Nathan.
Matthew Sweet, Cat Stevens, and Detroit blues-rock influence and mingle with each other on The Distance Calls, while remaining distinctly Nathan. There are few musicians out there that can pull off this kind of disparity in their sound, but Nathan and Harlow (who also sings on the track “Get On”) succeeded. Bringing back the lost art of the “fade out,” Nathan jaunts from classic rock with some Marc Bolan spark and swagger, to singer/songwriter with a touch of Americana twang. Neil Nathan is an electric warrior with a softer side.
While some tracks may sneak up on you more than others, every song leaves you with a catchy chorus. Nathan’s affection for iconic ‘70s music couldn’t be clearer than his folky version of Electric Light Orchestra’s “Do Ya.” Impressed by Nathan’s version, mega ELO man Jeff Lynne gave it his blessing for inclusion on Showtime's Californication Soundtrack. Nathan’s music has also appeared in the Rosario Dawson film Descent. He was excited for another opportunity to work with Dawson, his friend and former roommate, when she recently guest starred in his music video for The Distance Calls’ lead single, “California Run.”
“Making this album forced me to grow in many ways, the experience of working so closely with one of my favorite singer/songwriter/producers in Bobby Harlow and recording with the incredible musicians he assembled, was a whirlwind of new learning’s from both a performance and songwriting perspective.”
“I wanted Neil to walk away from this experience elated,” offers Harlow. And Nathan clearly is. “This is the best thing I’ve done to date. No doubt about it.” After a few EPs and singles, The Distance Calls is finally the album Nathan wanted to make. “It really showcases the style of songs I like to write; from hard rock to folk to countrified rock to garage to power pop.” And whether they’re rockers or folk songs, love or loss songs, or driving down the highway summer songs, Nathan now has a powerful collection of songs to stand the test of time.