Natural Child, “Okey Dokey”
NATURAL CHILD RECORDS & TAPES
Natural Child are not a goofy throwback. The Nashville three-piece has asserted this. Don’t be fooled by the title of their latest LP, Okey Dokey, or its psychedelic album art. This is pure twenty-first-century paranoia disguised as laid-back jams.
In the opening track, “Sure Is Nice,” all seems well—for about two seconds. “We got a good place / Stand and stare at the sun,” sings Wez Traylor. “You know that look on your face / Makes me not want to run.” With the admission that he’s grown used to taking off, he introduces the discomfort that manifests itself as soon as the next song. “NSA Blues” begins with Traylor singing, “Don’t worry about a thing.” Then it becomes clear that someone is, in fact, watching your every move. “We’ve seen all your cats / We know when you’re jerkin’ off.” This juxtaposition of freewheeling Dead-esque music and uneasy, self-critical lyrics continues. The barroom piano of “Now and Then” props up a less rousing sentiment: “Been havin’ trouble with myself / And yes, I am in pretty bad health.”
Let’s go back to the music, though. It’s stellar. The grooves chug along like a train, and they’re just groovy enough, never out of control. The band maintains that they’re not a hybrid of anything, but damned if they don’t sound at least a little (OK, a lot) like David Byrne finished “Life During Wartime” and helped write lyrics for a fuzzed-out southern rock band. Strictly in terms of music, “Transcendental Meditation” is “Gimme Three Steps.” “Juanita” is “Ramblin Man.” But Natural Child’s hysterically perfect lyrics elevate them completely. “Guided meditation, it always makes me fall asleep,” they sing on the former track. “If I can find my mantra, babe, I know that everything will be alright.”
In the space of the ten songs on Okey Dokey, Natural Child goes from “Sure Is Nice” to “It’s a Shame.” In 2016, that feels about right.