Nathaniel Carroll
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Nathaniel Carroll

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"Editor's Pick - A House by the Highway"

Was he trying to be ironic by beginning the album with an instrumental called “Word”? Probably. But that ends the being-able-to-figure-him-out part as he swoons through a hodge podge of singer/songwriter tunes that set coarse for the unilateral via his hometown of Springfield, MO. “Time Machine” is perhaps the best song on the album with its jaunty piano paving the way for some truly juicy creative pop effectiveness that recalls past Beatles b-sides. Awesome.

- J-Sin - Smother.net


"Piano EP"

Nathaniel Carroll begs you to listen to his delicate yet oddly strong piano play on the aptly titled “The Piano” 7”. While perhaps just as dynamic as his full-length, this has a defiant edge to it that’s subtle hidden under the surface of the three songs coaxed out of this vinyl. Lyrically his songs are conveyed as personal stories retold on the porch of some far-off land but nevertheless Nathaniel Carroll urges you to sit down, feel at home, and drink the Kool-Aid. My glass is half full and I want some more!


- J-Sin - Smother.net


"Nathaniel Carroll - The Piano EP"

"Everybody sings about New York
Well I guess I can't, 'cause I have never been before
To a place that's filled with pubs and bars
and everyone drives flying cars
well that's what life is like
in old New York"
Nathaniel Carroll, "Midwestern Blues"

"Midwestern Blues" opens Nathaniel Carroll's The Piano EP, a 7" vinyl record. A catchy, easy going pop track, "Midwestern Blues" sets the tone for the rest of the EP. Carroll's style is easily defined by his talented piano work and unpolished vocals; this is no shiny pop record, and from the start, that point is not only shown, but pushed to the forefront and magnified.

"Reunion Rag" is, as the name would suggest, a ragtime piece. The song feels as if it belongs in a nearly fictional Old West saloon, perhaps played by a man with a handlebar moustache. The style feels so authentic that one must wonder if Carroll is not, in fact, a man from the future, exploring musical styles of the past, present, and future, all in an attempt to create music that approaches perfection. Perhaps, and much more likely, the explanation is simply that he is one of many musical artists exploring the influences of his instrument: the illustrious piano.

The final track, "Sometimes," is a slower, heartfelt piece that showcases Carroll's creative writing style, both lyrically and musically. A string section echoes in and out of the track, providing a depth and emotion to the piece. The themes of the song are not uncommon to modern music by any means, but they are very rarely expressed as well they are in this song. Carroll's unrefined yet beautiful vocal style dominates the track, putting forth something genuine and interesting rather than something wholly usual and boring.

The Piano EP is an excellent showcase of Nathaniel Carroll's charismatic songwriting. As to be expected, this is just a smattering of tunes, and an excellent smattering at that. From the upbeat rhythms of "Midwestern Blues" and the bouncy ragtime style of "Reunion Rag," to the melancholy atmosphere of "Sometimes," The Piano EP is a promising release, showcasing Carroll's pop sensibilities and creative stylings.

Matthew Montgomery - Cloak and Dagger Media


"Nathaniel Carroll releases a new record, literally"

Nathaniel Carroll has a big Christmas wish: he wants to sell 500 records. And he's going about it with true Christmas spirit. At $4 a record, he's practically giving them away.

Carroll, a Drury sophomore, is a singer-songwriter with one full-length CD under his belt. His newest release, The Piano EP, is a 7" vinyl record with three songs.

Why is Carroll turning to turntables? "I find that records have an inexpensive and nostalgic quality," said Carroll. "Records are very popular in the independent music scene, and releasing a few new songs on 7" white vinyl excited me."

While Carroll encourages his peers to invest in turntables for economic reasons (records are much cheaper than CDs), he won't turn anyone down.

"Some people buy the record and I will send them a copy of a CD with the songs on it because I know not everyone wants a record player," Carroll said. "I don't know if I am allowed to say if my songs are good enough to go buy a record player."

But it might be worth it; everyone should hear these songs. Tired of cliche' Christmas carols? Nathaniel's carols are original, moving, significant, and, well, really good.

Carroll sings and plays piano on the record. And when Carroll plays piano, he resembles a monster (using all 88 pearly-whites).

"The opening track is entitled 'Midwestern Blues,'and it is an upbeat song with drums, guitar, bass, and an array of backing vocals and counterpoint chorus lines that, though slightly exaggerated, epitomize the preconceptions many people, including myself, have of New York, or any big city for that matter," Carol said.

On the second track, "Reunion Rag", Carroll is Paul McCartney-esque; exploring a new genre and mastering it with ease. Just like the former Beatles, who notoriously can't read music, Carroll is little shocked by his own piano playing.

"I have no idea how I wrote that song; it's so hard to play," Carroll said. "It's a ragtime piece in F# with a western saloon feel."

The last track, "Sometimes," displays Carroll's strongest lyrical work to date.

"The reoccurring theme in the song is a line that resolves every phrase, saying 'Things aren't quite what they seem,'" Carroll said.

Sure, it's a song about girlfriends, love, and miscommunication. But Carroll addresses well trodden pop themes without gimmicky hooks and smarmy lyrics. He always writes creatively.

The record packaging is creative, too. The artwork and screen-printing was done by three Drury people: Hayley Budd, Aaron Scott, and Nick Skyles.

Where can you buy the record?

Carroll's official record release show is on Saturday, December 11 at Billiard's Blue Room. The record can also be purchased online at www.boatsandstars.com/geneq or by emailing Carroll at ncarroll@drury.edu.

You may want to get a hold of him soon.

Carroll is currently making plans to fly to Los Angeles, to record his next album with David J. from the band Novi Split.

But that's not his final destination. Carroll plans to tour the country, maybe even the world, someday. And The Piano EP could be his ticket to ride.

by Philip Dickey - Drury University Mirror


"A House By the Highway Review"

I have been sent a lot of interesting packages since starting this site, but Nathaniel Carroll, a Missouri song-writer, wins the prize for creativity. Aside from his 1st album, A House By The Highway, the package also included a 7", a note, and hot chocolate mix. Carroll's first musical odyssey found him playing drums for a group called Faatherton, but A House... proves that his talent reaches far beyond the drums.

Nathaniel began playing the piano at a young age, and he picked up the guitar in college. The album contains several acoustic tracks, but the majority of it is devoted to the piano. I could honestly take or leave the acoustic songs, but Carroll really shines at the piano. Brilliant songs such as "Time Machine," "A Boy & His Piano," and "Pleasant Goodbye" recall Ben Folds at his finest and a touch of Figure 8 era Elliott Smith.

Carroll seems generally more comfortable at the piano as opposed to the guitar. The compositions are sophisticated, with the Beatles-esque "Tomorrow, Never Today" reaching an epic scale. A House By The Highway has a few bumps along the way, but the highlights are spectacular. Fans of piano rock and the artists I referenced will love this.
~Hugh - Unfinished


"Freshman singer/songwriter gets inspiration from college life"

These are our universal regrets: We accidentally throw away our favorite t-shirts. We rarely recycle. We don't floss our teeth. We never kissed that person. We stopped taking piano lessons.
Nathaniel Carroll, a Drury freshman, has one less regret than the rest of us. He took piano lessons, and now he is reaping the benefits. He is a singer/songwriter with a full length CD under his belt, dozens of upcoming shows, and he has much bigger plans.
"I hope to ride the music train as far as I can; perhaps a few world tours, or at least North America," Carroll said.
Carroll, a philosophy major, says music has always been a part of his life. He took piano lessons as a child and played drums for the rock band Faatherton in high school.
Songwriting was a natural progression for Carroll, but he didn't start writing until he found his muse: Drury.
Carroll said he "began to write songs right and left" after coming to Drury last fall. "The drastic change of lifestyle and newfound independence brought on inspiration. Moving away from home allowed me to set my own goals and evaluate what really motivates me," said Carroll.
Carroll's compositions can be heard on his recently released CD, A House by the Highway. Carroll plays guitar and piano on the CD, which has 11 tracks.
A House by the Highway will satisfy any craving you might have for lush pop melodies.
There are essentially two sides to the CD. The first five tracks are a collection of bouncy pop songs. Carroll's soaring voice takes center stage, whether it's singing along with a band or just his guitar. Certain melodic passages sound reminiscent of The Beatles, and "Time Machine" sounds a lot like Ben Folds Five.
The second half of the CD is slower and slightly morose. Songs like "Pleasant Goodbye" and "Before I Go" have a dreamy quality to them that prevent them from sounding stale.
Carroll can dress the most depressing song in lyrical warmth.
In "Minute," a song about the Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial, Carroll sings "this minute won't come to an end."
Every song on A House by the Highway resonates with honesty and meaning.
Nathaniel Carroll certainly has my attention, and while his first CD is very good ... I think his best material is yet to come.
You can purchase Nathaniel Carroll's A House by the Highway at Indigo Music in downtown Springfield, or by e-mailing Nathaniel Carroll at ncarroll@drury.edu.

by Philip Dickey - Drury University Mirror


"Move inspires young singer-songwriter"

Although he's played piano nearly all his life, mostly by ear, Nathaniel Carroll never took a serious stab at songwriting until a few months ago.
"I had tried sporadically in high school to write music, for girls or whatever, but it didn't work out," says Carroll, an 18-year-old Drury University freshman and Camdenton native.

Then in August, just before he left home for college, Carroll put fingers to keys and pen to paper and came up with the first song he felt was a keeper.

"Pleasant Goodbye" is one of the songs on Carroll's first release on local indie imprint Generic Equivalent Records.

He'll release the album, titled "A House By The Highway," with a show tonight at The Blue Room inside Billiards of Springfield.

The album consists of piano- and acoustic guitar-driven rock and pop songs, a handful of ballads and a pair of instrumentals. The subject matter ranges from the requisite carefree love songs to the Oklahoma City bombing and dealing with losing a parent.

After "Goodbye" jumped from his head onto the page, Carroll says the songs just kept coming.

His move to Drury inspired new feelings and new ideas, he says.

"It's such a drastic change," he says of this point in his life. "Right now I'm a completely different person than I was in high school."

Carroll says his musical tastes have mellowed, and he's tuned in to singer-songwriters since he began penning his own songs.

"I used to listen to Pennywise or NOFX," he says.

"Now I've moved on to jazz, Rufus Wainwright, Ben Folds, Jason Mraz, India.Arie. And I still listen to rock. I listen to a lot of Smashing Pumpkins and Phantom Planet."

The album was recorded at Audioloft Recording Studios in Mack's Creek, which is owned by family friend Brad Edwards. Edwards plays bass on the album while his son Brian plays drums. Carroll plays piano, acoustic and electric guitars and percussion.

Carroll has only played a handful of gigs, but has a half dozen lined up in the coming months. He says the original songs listeners respond to and the songs he likes best aren't always the same.

"Everybody likes 'Sick Day,'" he says.

"It's sort of like the generic radio song, and it's probably one of my least favorite songs because it's so simple."

"House By The Highway" ends with two emotional songs that Carroll counts as his favorites. One is "Minute," inspired by a trip to the Oklahoma City National Memorial.

The second is "Christmas Wish," which deals with Carroll's father's battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly referred to Lou Gehrig's disease.

"Will you promise your father you'll be faithful? / Will you promise me, son, that you'll pray?" Carroll sings. "And I know that I'll boast to the Holy Ghost that Nathaniel, you're doing just great."

The story may be deeply personal, but it's one Carroll says he wants very much to share. Meanwhile, his muse remains.

"I'm so busy writing songs I'll probably release something else at the same time next year, if not sooner," he says.

Contact reporter Michael A. Brothers at mbrothers@News-Leader.com. - Springfield News-Leader


"Omniscient musical talent (A House by the Highway)"

This CD blows Ben Folds and John Mayer right out of the water. In fact, despite their legendary status, it would not be surprising to see both men in the front row at a Nathaniel Carroll concert, outwardly cheering, yet inwardly seething with jealousy. That is just how talented this young musician is.

Carroll is a master of guitar, piano, voice, and songwriting, and he lays it out for the world to see on A House by the Highway. Each song tells a mini-story, and each story covers a wide variety of subjects - some which we have heard before, some which are personal to Carroll himself, but each told to us in a clever way which grabs our attention and makes us feel like we are there in the moment.

Musically, the majority of these tracks are exceptional. "Sick Day" exemplifies Carroll's mastery of the modern guitar, while "Time Machine" does the same for his mastery of modern piano styles. "A Boy and his Piano" and "Pleasant Goodbye" show how Carroll can follow a more classical style, as does the very beautiful, very solemn instrumental "Before I Go". On top of all this we place Carroll's voice, which is emotive and very pleasing to the ear- he really knows his craft and does what he does very well.

The only weak point on this CD is the track "When This Leaf Has Turned," which is a very beautiful song, very cleverly written, but just feels like it drags on a bit more than it needs to. But when a beautiful song drags on too long, is it really all that bad?

Enlightening at times and soothing at others, this CD is a masterpiece. For fans of Ben Folds (Five) and John Mayer, this would be an excellent CD to pick up.

-Andrea Goodwin - IndependentClauses.com


Discography

Jan. 2004 - Split EP with Dan Weinhaus (3 tracks)
Mar. 2004 - A House By the Highway - Full Length (11 tracks)
Oct. 2004 - Piano EP - 7" White Vinyl (3 tracks)

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