I’m a little surprised (or maybe embarrassed) that I hadn’t heard of Nathaniel Talbot until “River Song” landed in our inbox. The song is actually off his fourth album, Swamp Rose & Honeysuckle Vine, due out on none other than Portland’s Fluff & Gravy Records later this month.
But then, perhaps it’s just a reflection of Talbot’s humility—not to mention his life outside of music—that he’s remained relatively unknown. Working 60 hours a week from March to October on his organic vegetable farm on Washington’s Whidbey Island just north of Seattle, he’s certainly got enough to keep himself busy without talking up his music career. That being said, he’s worth some lip service: Talbot’s latest is a simple, pure, haunting love song that sticks with you.
Another surprise came when I found out that Talbot tries to steer away from the subject matter in “River Song”: “I tend to avoid love songs, as I find it so difficult to give them a unique narrative and fresh voice,” he says. “You'll find most of my lyrics grappling with less familiar themes—themes of ecology, farming and the complex ways in which humans connect with the natural world. Thus, ‘River Song’ is a bit of an anomaly. To be honest, this is probably one of simplest, most universal songs I've ever written. I let myself embrace the cliche [of love and loss] as an experiment, and it seemed to work out.”
We tend to agree.