Review John Apice
Nate Lee – Wings of a Jetliner
This solo collection by award-winning instrumentalist & member of the renowned bluegrass group the Becky Buller Band (since 2017), Nate Lee has assembled some stellar, iconic musicians for his 12-track LP Wings of a Jetliner, (Drops June 12 – Adverb).
Mr. Lee (mandolin/banjo/fiddle/lead vocals) performs a varied set of folk, bluegrass, vintage tunes, & new acoustic music. While the majority of the cuts come from other sources, 5 are original Nate instrumentals.
One track even goes energetic with a cover of rock band The Offspring’s “All Along.” Brave…but done well with Becky’s aggressive backup vocal, sawing fiddle & Nate’s fiery mandolin smoking throughout.
I’m in no way a bluegrass aficionado but I know what I like. I have an appreciation for the genre & always respected it as far back as the day when I was a boy & realized Elvis’ “Blue Moon of Kentucky,” was written by bluegrass father Bill Monroe in 1945. Then, I was introduced to Alison Krauss & Union Station – which really hooked me.
So, Nate Lee’s CD art is compelling in its sepia tone with a readable 8-page stitched lyric insert that credits all musicians clearly. Nice packaging. Personally, the back panel solo picture of Nate in the hallway as the cover would’ve been more engaging.
The LP title comes from a line in the song “Somewhere Far Away,” – but that song title is a better CD title. Nate sings this easy-going & beautifully too. Bronwyn’s fiddle takes center stage alongside Nate’s mandolin. The pleasure is in the simplicity of the melodies – the playing may be harder to do but these are pros inside & out. Their joy playing these songs shows.
Other than that, the menu of music is tasty, accomplished, invigorating & the musicians are all proficient. Because it’s bluegrass, the LP gets out of the starting gate at breakneck speed on “Wonderbat,” a short instrumental basically an intro to what treasures are to follow.
“Tobacco,” features strings recorded with clarity & Nate’s vocals with a high lonesome Ralph Stanley tone. The Daniel Salyer (harmony vocals) tune has creative story-like lyrics.
With Nate are Todd Phillips (bass), Wyatt Rice (guitar), Bronwyn Keith-Hynes (fiddle), Ned Luberecki (banjo), Becky Buller (fiddle & harmony vocals), Daniel Hardin (bass & harmony vocals), Dan Boner (guitar/fiddle/harmony vocals), & Thomas Cassell (mandolin).
“The More I Pour,” as it opens is old-fashioned & is a genuine western swing in tradition but has a song structure closer to pianist/songwriter Hoagy Carmichael. Quite a clever song. Vocally, one of the best.
An enjoyable well spent 40-minutes. The CD was recorded in TN & produced by Professor Dan Boner. Available at Amazon. Website: https://thenatelee.com/