Nate Wey just released ‘Summer Feeling’. This solo release from the Souvenir Driver frontman is a cover of the Jonathan Richman classic cut. Where Richman’s original version toyed with a deepened sense of romance and memory, Nate Wey adds further pathos to the season. This new account of things is delivered with an awareness of things being less than ideal, and in the beauty there’s a spaced-out sadness.
It’s summer 2018. Wildfires are filling the skies with smoke. Capitalism is teetering on the brink of total collapse. Fake news is a thing. The moral compass of the entire planet is spinning to find north. It’s easy to get swept away in the fevers of the world. Yet here, pointing to something timeless is a song that captures the spiritual potential that sits inside our actual reality. We are unified by our internal truths, rather than divided by our external projections. Nate Wey appreciates the difference between what is hip and what is cool. He alters little of the vocal phrasing. Perhaps there’s a little more reverb. His accent is different, and his breathing is sometimes heavier than Richmans – but (lyrically) there is no significant reworking of the poetic original. What differs here is the instrumental work. The strengths of the original are preserved, and expertly executed with a little extra seasoning.
Fans of Souvenir Driver will be familiar with the shoegaze approach favored by Wey. Here, operating alone, the artist makes clear his affection for muted textures rather than bright patterns. If Richman’s original ‘Summer Feeling’ was a sunset on a beach, Nate Wey’s idea of summer is captured at dawn, in the mist. He deals with representations of possibility rather than designs of certainty. This less-concrete approach to the subject enhances the sense of wonder, and the need to preserve something good out of all of this. Each verse peels away expected structures to reveal a blissed-out brightness.
With the promise of a new Souvenir Driver album on the horizon the band have been playing some shows around their hometown of Portland. But this track, along with another, ‘Million Lights‘, which was dropped with no press preview, promotion or fanfare, shows that Nate Wey continues an artistic output that is as engaging as it is challenging and surprising.
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PHOTOGRAPH BY HEATHER BOYD