Nate Smith’s style is as reverent as it gets, spanning a creative spectrum inside of a single track if necessary to get a specific point across to his audience, and under the Saint Pacific moniker, we’ve got to hear some of his very best work to date. Saint Pacific’s new album, Blue, doesn’t sport an ironic title by any means, but instead, one that tells us exactly what we’re getting into in the eleven-song collection of vast and internal commentaries it contains. Through the most melodic filtering his profound vocal can lend the material, Smith breaks off what could be his most mature tracklist so far in Blue, all while standing by the experimentalism of his collective scene’s previous work unfailingly.
There’s so much passion in “Carl Jung,” his cover of “Make You Feel My Love,” “Last Kind Word Blues,” and “Let the Rain Fall Down” that it’s almost surprising the studio environment didn’t stifle some of the emotionality these unique narratives were meant to convey. It feels like I’m listening to music that was meant to be played before a crowd of people; to be declared like a grand confession that this singer/songwriter has been looking to get off of his chest for far too long now. The insularities of the poeticisms in these tracks reflect on the muted tone of recent indie music that likely inspired them, and considering the period in history in which they were recorded by Smith, it would surprise me if their origins weren’t directly tied to the backdrop the American underground has provided all of us in modern times.
“Old Man,” “Ten Feet Tall,” the title track, “Found,” and “Maybe This Time” feature arrangements that challenge the abilities this player has from start to finish, but I get the idea that was a big part of compiling these songs together for an LP. Blue is a quest of endurance and intentional strife, created as such to give us a complete look at who Smith is as Saint Pacific. There’s an independent personality to the lyrical protagonist he describes and ultimately plays in this LP that he adopts fearlessly at the start of the record and doesn’t abandon until “Let the Rain Fall Down,” and his dedication alone makes this a worthwhile listen in my book.
Blue is just what I was looking for in a profoundly independent pop/rock listen that flirts with a little bit of everything all for the sake of covering as much emotional ground as its creator can reach, and even if you haven’t heard the content that preceded it, I’d still recommend checking it out before the summer season has come to an end. Together, these eleven songs tell a story that is both personal and deeply commentarial – at least as I read it – but as a complete piece, I think this album might be the best of any you’re going to hear right now. I believe Saint Pacific is going to score a lot of accolades from across the underground in 2023, and if you’re questioning what all of the buzz is about, you probably haven’t been listening to Blue from beginning to end lately.