Eric Taylor w/ Nathan Bell
The Mill — Tuesday, August 11 at 8 p.m.
In a musical landscape dominated by bombast, we too rarely find ourselves invited to pause and reflect to the sounds and stories offered by musicians familiar with the power of language. The double feature of Eric Taylor and Nathan Bell, playing The Mill on Aug. 11 at 8 p.m., offers listeners an opportunity to embrace the beauty made possible when voice and guitar combine to wondrous effect. Both Eric and Nathan have reputations for the kind of quietly intense stories that hold audiences in rapt silence.
Eric Taylor is a musician’s musician, inspiring better known balladeers such as Lyle Lovett, Steve Earle and Nancy Griffith. Those unfamiliar with his songcraft — or the work of those indebted to him — can anticipate the kind of age-worn storytelling that Tom Waits provides at his most introspective. Taylor’s songs are rich: it’s as easy to get lost in the intricacies of the music as it is to trip over the story unfolding, or the rough sound of his voice. Often focused on the small details that make up the major events of human lives, his songs reward listeners who attend to the universal truths acknowledged in his work.
Nathan Bell may be familiar to longtime residents of Iowa City as the son of poet laureate of Iowa, Marvin Bell. The singer’s wordcraft stands on its own, however, as does his musicianship. Songs sketch out characters, and the images and metaphors that anchor phrases such as “I am just a name / to you” gain depth as Bell provides listeners with new and revealing contexts. The frequently blues-based instrumentation around Bell’s lyrics (he cites both Jack London and Frank Herbert as influences) provide a distraction-free experience, sparse without becoming simple.
Tickets are $12 in advance and $15 at the door.