That’s Nat Baldwin pictured above clutching a basketball, as he is wont to do when not clutching an electric bass behind David Longstreth in Dirty Projectors, or an upright one performing under his own name. (Regardless of the occasion you can catch him sporting a #34 Len Bias jersey, save when he is posing for album covers, which are strictly shirts-optional.) Baldwin’s solo work came to my attention via a split with BTW Extra Life. Both he and Extra Life leader Charlie Looker have booked time as Dirty Projectors, and as vocalists both share with the latter band’s lead singer a distinctive, fractured melodic style rife with suspended intervals and plenty of grace notes. Baldwin’s timbre is probably the most pleasing in a conventional sense, which you can hear on “Lifted,” a song that comes from his forthcoming solo debut People Changes. There’s a slightly different version of this track in my iTunes from 2008: It’s still pretty and still features Baldwin singing solo over his bowed, waltz-time double bass, except now there’s tumbling-downstairs jazz-ensemble chatter where skittering electronics once were, fighting the song arrhythmically early on, later locked in to underscore the chorus. In that way, the song frames and fuses two of Baldwin’s biggest influences: iconic NYC downtown experimentalist Arthur Russell, and avant jazz master (and formerly Baldwin’s music teacher) Anthony Braxton (you may know his son’s solo work also).
Grab “Lifted,” and two more Nat tracks: “Weights,” also from the album, and “Lake Erie,” his best song to date.
From a previous release titled Most Valuable Player (because, basketball), here’s “Lake Erie”:
Nat Baldwin – “Lake Erie”
And from the new, here is “Weights”:
Nat Baldwin – “Weights”
People Changes is out 5/24 via Western Vinyl.