Here’s our latest conversation on what the alt-weekly The Nashville Scene is covering with its music editor Stephen Trageser.
Jewly Hight: In this week’s issue of the Scene, you and several of your contributors did a roundup of recent Nashville releases. What is the vision behind the collaborative hip-hop and spoken word album from S-wrap and Rashad thaPoet that you wrote about?
Stephen Trageser: The name of the [album] is The Other Side, and it was kind of inspired by this project to catch the attention of the Recording Academy, the organization that awards the Grammys. The spoken word category at the Grammys has recently been dominated a lot by audiobooks, and there were some spoken word poets trying to help kind of re-center the narrative on spoken word poetry.
On this project, The Other Side, you’ve got a series of really beautiful spoken word poems over kind of a psychedelic soul musical bed. It kind of follows the protagonist journey to find purpose in life and find real success behind the symbols of things that we usually think of as success.
JH: You also wrote about the latest from another artist who actually got his start doing spoken word here in Nashville, the Blackson. What did he just drop?
ST: He recently released this project, Longest Day of the Year. It’s kind of like a digital seven-inch. It’s a pair of tracks. You have one called “Sweet Toof” and another called “On the Way.” They work together to kind of tell the story about believing in yourself in the face of stress and pressure and too much going on at once, trying to find that focus within that.
JH: The third project you wrote about is from someone who is known for adding lushness to other artists’ projects in the studio, Jordan Lehning. What is he up to on his own new album?
ST: The record’s called Three Colored Wall, and it is maximalist pop. If you’re sort of familiar with a lot of the work that he’s done in the past few years, this is a little bit of a sonic departure from it. It makes me think a lot of artists who spent a lot of time in the studio in the ’80s, like XTC. It’s an examination of close relationships in a lot of the songs, which a lot of his material is about, but it’s in this big, Technicolor sort of presentation.
JH: A couple of other Nashville Scene writers appraised new projects by Nordista Freeze and the indie rocker allie, who this roundup has turned me on to for the first time. Can you give us just the briefest sense of what those two artists’ new music is like?
ST: Allie’s sound is a big, lush indie rock sound with lots of different layers that kind of move in and out. Their record [Maybe Next Time] is kind of inspired by gender dysphoria and navigating the end of a relationship. And then Nordista Freeze is working more in a psych rock mode with just a big do-it-together, get-everybody-in-there kind of feel to it.