When Nathan Angelo was making his 2013 album, Out of the Blue, he drew inspiration from a visit to Detroit’s Hitsville U.S.A. building, the original home of Motown Records.
For his latest, A Matter of Time, Angelo was motivated in large part by experiences related to his home in Greenville, South Carolina.
A number of songs on his new album (released in August) came from interactions Angelo had while caring for his daughter, who was born with a metabolic disease and required gastronomy tube feedings and excessive doctor appointments leading up to successful liver transplant surgery in late November 2016.
“We were in survival mode for about six months,” Angelo recalls, “and it was hard to find time for creative expression. As time passed, I found time to write again.”
One night, Angelo was sitting with his daughter and playing a toy piano that a friend of his gave her as a gift. He liked the chords and “bouncing element” that he’d come up with, so he incorporated that into the song “Losing Touch.” Another tune was born at breakfast, when Angelo made a beat on the table that his daughter enjoyed, and from there he went on to write “Timeless.”
“Beautiful World” and “Simple Days” speak more directly to “the difficult life experiences at hand,” Angelo says.
“I wrote ‘Beautiful World’ to my daughter to remind her that what she sees in this life — transplant scars, disease — is not all there is,” he adds. “It’s a song largely inspired by faith and the gift of imagination.
“I wrote ‘Simple Days’ a few years back, but never felt like I could seriously get behind the refrain ‘oh the simple days, the simple days are gone.’ I revisited it after all that we had been through, and it became a song and lament that was healing to me and my wife.”
Angelo began recording A Matter of Time in August 2016 with producer Paul Reeves in Atlanta.
“We wanted to maintain the organic integrity and vibe of ’70s analog soul,” Angelo says, “but also keep things more modern for this particular project. I’ve always considered my music pop, so we set out to make something a bit more accessible for modern ears — bigger kick drum, programming elements, overdubs.”
With Reeves behind the board, Angelo recorded “Spread a Little Happiness” and “Any Day Now.” In late March, after spending more than two months in Pittsburgh for his daughter’s transplant surgery and aftercare, Angelo resumed recording — this time in Nashville, Tennessee, with longtime collaborator Stephen Gause. By late May, A Matter of Time was finished.
“He liked the direction and vibe from the first two songs, and we ran with it,” Angelo says of Gause. “He stepped in and pushed me beyond what I had thought possible with the project.”
— By Chris M. Junior
Nathan Angelo on tour (schedule subject to change):
• Nov. 1: Isis Music Hall — Asheville, North Carolina
• Nov. 2: Hendershots — Athens, Georgia
• Nov. 9: VZDs — Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
• Nov. 11: Opening Bell Coffee — Dallas
• Nov. 15: Hotel Café — Los Angeles
• Nov. 16: Hotel Utah — San Francisco
• Nov. 18: Sky City — Augusta, Georgia