[sic] Magazine

Rivulets: ‘You Are My Home’

O Rosa Records
Review by M Henaghan

Rivulets (aka Nathan Amundson) is something of an Avant-Rock protégé. In 1999, Low’s Alan Sparhawk welcomed him into his Chair Kickers’ Union stable, issuing his self-titled debut that same year. Amundson has again called upon his network of friends for ‘You Are My Home’, which feature a who’s who of the American leftfield musicians alumni. Rachel’s Christian Frederickson provides some striking viola, Codeine’s Chris Brokaw produces a robust percussive performance, Jessica Bailiff weighs in with some bells and Silber Records head honcho Brian John Mitchell built the greenhouse that this album was, presumably, recorded in.

‘Glass Houses’ is a tentative opener, with Amundson finding his feet while establishing a yearning, melancholic tone that will go on to serve him well throughout the whole record. His fragile as a snowflake vocal style lies somewhere between that of Neil Young and Nick Drake. It works well for him too, acting as a guide to the overall mood of the record. As with a number of singer/songwriter recordings, ‘You Are My Home’ bases its themes around longing and regret, though the title (and indeed the music, as you will come to learn) leaves lingering traces of hope and optimism.

Such sentiments prevail in several numbers, particularly the breathtaking title track, where a seductive melody is tempered by shimmering electric guitar and Amundson’s Drakian delivery, the final few minutes of this piece finds him seemingly coming to terms with his new home.

Of course, Nick Drake should be the first port of call for anyone interested in soft, orchestral driven songs, but Rivulets has a fine repertoire of wistful, melancholic compositions too. ‘You Sail On’ is both resplendently beautiful and wonderfully sad, where striking orchestration laces Amundson’s gorgeous, double-tracked refrain on the chorus. ‘Win or Lose’ is moving too, but for different reasons entirely. Its driving barre chord structure clashes and folky viola and certainly gets the head nodding and feet tapping, injecting this number with a celebratory Céilidh-like urgency, utilized by the likes of Arcade Fire and Beirut .

Penultimate number ‘Happy Ending’, meanwhile, finds Amundson in a contemplative mood. “There is no happy ending” he sings in a punky, almost bratish tone. However, the torrent of crunching guitar and pounding percussion that soon follows, suggests otherwise, as if Amundson is finally breaking through the malaise.
Ultimately, this is a formidable release from both artist and label. O Rosa, run by James Vella of Yndi Halda, has been quietly assembling an impressive roster of artists over the last year, while Rivulets’ material certainly matches that of his more illustrious peers Elliot Smith, Nick Drake and Bon Iver — occasionally, dare I say it, bettering them.