[12 April 2013]
PopMatters Associate Music Editor
Jody Nelson has been a big part of a big piece of the vibrant music scene in Birmingham, Alabama, fronting the excellent band Through the Sparks. But he’s been branching out, playing on Wooden Wand’s beautiful record Blood Oaths of the New Blues earlier this year, and now he’s got a new project in Dorado. If the album title, Anger, Hunger, Love & the Fear of Death, sounds like a lot of ground to cover, Nelson hits all those huge points and others with some combination of buckshot scatter and sniper precision. The record plays like a Southern version of Winesburg, Ohio, as we range from the teenage restlessness of “Molotov” to the string of gossip and small-town secrets in “Second Hand Stories” and trapped folks stuck in a cycle of mistakes (“Temple of the Guiding Light”). It’s an album as much about the hope under all these pitfalls as it is about the ways we romanticize those pitfalls and fears. The music is just as far-flung as the stories, jumping from countrified surf-rock, to power-pop, to pastoral folk-pop, to a dozen other hamlets of sound that border each other instead of blending, creating an album of endless experiments that somehow coheres in the way these parts are stitched together. It’s an impressive, expansive record that never loses the charm of intimacy. Nelson is a great frontman with Through the Sparks, but in Dorado he presents himself as musical storyteller, and these are the kind of tales you’ll want to pull up a stool for, to hear and get lost in.