Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit

Michael Nau fine-tunes a laidback sensibility on Accompany


Release date: 08 December 2023
Michael Nau Accompany cover
06 December 2023, 11:30 Written by Janne Oinonen

Sam Burton, Weyes Blood, Sylvie, Jonathan Wilson: there’s no shortage of celebrated contemporary songwriters and bands drawing from the laidback lore of late-60’s Laurel Canyon to fashion sumptuous widescreen soundtracks for our melancholy moods.

Veteran of US indie-folk outfits Page France and Cotton Jones, Michael Nau has been on a similar mission since 2015’s solo debut Mowing without receiving equivalent notice and renown. Laidback but not listless, easygoing without being easily brushed off, Accompany (Lau’s fifth solo album) deserves to correct the course and elevate Nau’s profile.

Accompany evolved without any particularly tight or well established plan. Some studio time became available and Nau was able to call upon his dream team of musicians (including the lonesome wail of Matt Davidson‘s pedal steel in particularly atmospheric starring role) to bring his rapidly increasing pile of new material to full fruition. Instead of the aimless noodling and sketchily half-cooked song ideas you might expect from such a spontaneous set-up, Accompany practically glistens with warmth and depth, with organic yet layered arrangements that combine live-in-the-studio dynamics with carefully calibrated orchestrations (literally in the case of string arrangements that pop up occasionally to enrich the proceedings) attached to some of Nau’s most immediately appealing material yet.

As is usual with Nau, the divide between laughter and tears can be elusive: these songs are keenly attuned to life’s potential to slide into quirky absurdity, but this doesn’t dent the material’s emotional resonance: at its best, Accompany is populated by serious tunes (serious both in terms of their quality and the insightful imagination on offer) that don’t take themselves all that seriously. Lau’s vocals are pitched halfway between gently emotive crooning and murmured asides to someone parked next to the microphone (or maybe even the singer himself). Accompany is a decidedly relaxed affair, and the unforcedly loose yet still focused performances help more upbeat material, such as the got-groove-back testimonial “Relearn to Boogie” (‘’we built a house around an open door’’), achieve a lift-off.

Accompany truly shines with its more slow-burning moments, however. Both “Shiftshaping” and near-title track “Accompaniment” echo the minor-key horizontality and epically expansive melancholy of Sam Burton’s deservedly acclaimed Dear Departed, but the melodic prowess and idiosyncratic outlook are very much Nau’s own. Both belong among Nau’s strongest material, but the glowing mid-tempo charmer “Comes to Pour “ (fueled by promises of a sunnier weather forecast after one of life’s storms) is even stronger. All told, Accompany provides compelling testimonial for the case that Michael Nau is one of the most underrated singer-songwriters currently in circulation: an album you’re guaranteed to want to, er, accompany you for months to come.

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