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  • Jonathan Widran


If you really dig on the raw, sometimes edgy hard rolling yet often sensitively soulful rock blues storyteller tunes on Saint Pacific’s 11-track album Blue and feel hungry for more, you might be inclined to check out some previous releases. Only you can’t under this moniker. That’s because for whatever reason – the desire to create a concept with expansive potential, or simply having too common a last name - veteran singer/songwriter Nate Smith decided to rebrand after unleashing his equally compelling predecessors (Some Kind of Dancing, By the Door) under his real name.

Once you get past those logistics, feel free to engage in the raw splendor of his gritty and bluesy powerhouse vocals as he lifts the window to his soul and digs deep into both his most sensitive and guttural forms of expression to explore different phases of playing the love game. These romp from the joyful onset of new possibilities where redemption has the power to cleanse past mistakes (“Found”) to filling the heart’s increasingly desperate needs (the brooding, plaintive title track), committing cautiously to forever (“Let the Rain Fall Down”) and on through painful but necessary goodbyes (“Carl Jung”) and the beauty that outlasts the pain and fear (“Shimmering”).

Elsewhere, Smith infuses us with offbeat storytelling (the booming funk, banjo tinged “Old Man”) and tops the reference to Jung’s “shadow selves” with unique callouts to famed 20th Century Japanese actor Toshiro Mifune (a fraught moment in “Shimmering”) and Nick Cave’s 2001 tune “Fifteen Feet of Pure White Snow” on the title track. The line “No more than him knows the love of the love, and the weight of the letting go” captures the Saint Pacific aesthetic in a cozy nutshell.

We feel love’s weight in both euphoric and heavy, sorrow-laden ways, and Mr. Nate Smith is our sage illuminating the truths in his fiery bluesy soul – sometimes most thoughtfully when he’s invoking religious references, as he does on “Found” (with literal quotes from “Amazing Grace” and the quirky first line of the booming rock opener “Maybe This Time,” “Lord Jesus went to California, turn sunshine to wine/. . .folks gathered from miles away, they came hoping for a sign…”

And when there’s an emotion Smith can’t quite capture with his own skilled pen, he wraps his cool atmospheric moodiness around Bob Dylan’s classic “Make You Feel My Love,” given its most stark, solemn version yet.

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