Nathan Lawr, the ever-busy Minotaurs frontman, returns with his third solo outing, titled Chance Encounter, and with each listen it grows and wends its way into this music-loving heart of mine. With a dab of country twang and a smearing of folk rock over top and in between, Chance Encounter plays like a book of tales spun from the mind of a very sane mad music scientist.
Gorgeous song structures are made more pretty with the addition of some nicely muted brass on the opening and title track, along with some hot organ and Lawr’s signature ghost of Thom York timbre. “Chance Encounter” makes for a smooth beginning.
“Nathan Lawr’s 364th Dream About Bob Dylan” picks up the pace a bit and offers something kind of skronky and funky while “Thunder from Below” has a country drawl and comes from the perspective storytelling of (ahem) stormy-but-strong long-held relationships.
What is lovely about Lawr’s music, and this album in particular, is the variety of styles he cycles through in such a short time. Chance Encounter graces the listener with folk, country, jazzy funk, and a bit of rock, but it never steers into the territory of sounding disjointed. Somehow these seven tunes blend together nicely and complement each other while remaining stand-alone. There is beauty in the verse and in the players he has accompanying him, while Lawr’s voice is a soothing mix of emotional signposts.
Although there are moments when the music on Chance Encounter gets a bit down and dirty, such as on “My Forest is a Curtain” and the excellent “Silver Ladder,” this album is far from the deep-cut horn-heavy output of Minotaurs. Easy to embrace and even easier love, Lawr’s solo work is so much proof that the man has a world of music at his fingertips and in his heart, and for that we should be very glad indeed.