These past few weeks have felt like a climax in a way. Everything from the past decade is culminating into oblivion. Every decision we make seems to be guided by a congenital instinct to traverse onward. Every action we take is motivated by this same inclination. We build relationships with our friends and peers. We seek higher education. We build careers. Everything we do is a building block—offering us a step up (or down) to our next chapter.
But suddenly, everything comes to a halt. It feels like the sensory disorientation of stepping off a treadmill after a long workout. In your head you’re dizzy—moving like the Flash—but to everyone else, you’re unnoticed—just walking along.
The past few years (2020 in particular) have slimmed me down. Not physically so much as socially. I’ve pulled out. Like, really pulled out. I’ve found this new, unfamiliar feeling of speculation. It feels as though I’m starting over. I’m wondering what comes next.
Singer/songwriter Nathaniel Paul—who you might know from the duo The Bergamot—examines the growing pains of this milestone in his new single, “Songbird.” It’s about life after change. A change could be the loss of someone close, a loss of direction, a loss of connection to others, a loss of control, or perhaps a loss of yourself. When you feel like your purpose has vanished, what do you do?
Paul’s song and accompanying music video perfectly capture a moment of reminiscing about the past and looking towards the future with trepidation yet hope. It’s a quiet excitement. The slow motion and wind-blown clothes of the actors become hypnotic paired with the wide, soothing sound of the ride cymbal in the choruses.
The track is layered like a cake. Your ear catches something new with each listen. The percussion: painted with overdrive and a subtle distortion. The guitar: spinning and swirling as though projected through a rotary speaker. Listen closely and hear an organ off to your left—light and warbling like a flute or an actual songbird perched upon a nearby bough laden with blossom.
The artist, Nathaniel Paul, comes from a region known as Michiana, yet chose to commence his music career in the Big Apple. He’s a jack of all trades: a writer, performer, multi-instrumentalist, and producer. His understanding of human empathy is demonstrated by his latest work. 2021 will be anything but stagnant for him as he releases his debut album on March 24 and is working on a full length documentary with his band The Bergamot.
“Songbird” understands the uneasiness that comes with wondering what the universe has in store around the next corner, but it unburdens the feeling and gives its listeners hope and calm. It’s a deep breath of fresh air. It offers an escape—an opportunity to close your eyes and take flight.
Written by Matt Kalicky