Nathaniel Paul of the acclaimed pop band The Bergamot is releasing his sophomore solo album Turpentine in Spring 2022. The debut “Turpentine” finds Paul sketching riffs off the main rhythm line in seemingly whimsical fashion and in the video he hangs upside down at a jungle gym while he opines about trying to get out of the rat race and get back to a stable place in order to dream about a better life again. Animated characters interact as an air of menace permeates those sequences as well as those of the mysterious rabbit figure with the briefcase that contains a mysterious glowing prize à la Pulp Fiction. The song is playful but its words are very real and thoughtful about how “This harsh world takes its toll” on everyone and puts us all off balance despite our best efforts. Is it planned? Does Mr. Paul have some ideas in mind to climb out of these darkly mysterious situations for himself and for humanity as a whole? That’s probably too much to ask but surely more illuminating tales rendered as innovative pop songs await when Turpentine releases. Watch the video for the title track on YouTube and connect with Nathaniel Paul at the links below.
Rather than offer the tired bootstrap type talk favored by people with no real understanding of other humans, on its latest single “Bones,” The Bergamot offers a poetic insight into personal struggle without platitudes. The opening lines sets the stage for the rest of the song with a simple metaphor of how can you really get up or get anything done as a human without the internal emotional framework to do so. What do you do when things most of us take for granted aren’t there? The metaphor could stand for being in a state of depression, addiction, chronic illness or any state of mind and/or body that puts us in a place where we don’t or don’t feel like we have the internal support to get up and going on our own without help. What the song doesn’t do is patronize in its hushed, melodic atmospheres. It doesn’t offer pithy, mealy-mouthed wisdom. But most importantly it offers an attempt at understanding without judgment or a sense that the songwriters feel like they have it figured out. The Bergamot’s Nathaniel Paul Hoff has some experience with the subject matter as his brother attempted suicide nearly three years ago following a stint in rehab. Rather than take an ableist perspective, Hoff and the band crafted a song that is flush with emotion but also a message of taking it easy on yourself even as you try to get and do better and to not have unrealistic expectations about where you are so that you don’t set impossible bars to reach. It’s essentially a message of self-kindness and one that is deft and avoiding the pitfalls, the hubris and the bravado that comes with too many attempts by people doing well or with healthy coping mechanisms trying to help others whose circumstances they don’t understand and how one can be winnowed to nothing inside with nothing to snap back with. The Bergamot with this song seem to suggest a program of patience, gentleness and active listening to what your body and mind are telling you. Listen to “Bones” on Soundcloud or on the recently released album Mayflies, which released on September 19, 2019.
“Ceasfire” by Brooklyn, NY-based The Bergamot has a downtempo anthemic quality that reminded me a bit of Low in the past decade and a half. The fantastic vocal harmonies between husband and wife duo Nathaniel Hoff and Jillian Speece going from gently textural verses to ethereal yet forceful choruses is utterly entrancing. All the while the music starts in simple, interweaving layers of percussion, glistening guitar and breezy synths and resolves into triumphant tones. Fans of The Besnard Lakes will appreciate the bright and scintillating take on a psychedelic indie folk. Keep with The Bergamot at any of the following and listen to “Ceasefire” below.