There’s quite a bit to be said about the singing that Neil Nathan does in his new single “The Folly of War,” but there’s even more to be noted about the contribution of his foundational piano parts in this song, which might have even more to say on the matter of peace than he does.
Colorfully lining the verses with a melodic ribbonry that beckons us back to the 1960s, the keys add a bit of the past into the big picture with this very present-day story, as if to remind anyone who happens to be listening that the battle for peace is ongoing and nothing new to anyone.
That said, what is fresh and intriguing about this single isn’t necessarily its adept management of otherwise outdated concepts, but instead the pristine way in which it’s been arranged.
As a critic I’m inclined to favor performances that are multifaceted and require a little more intellectualism to pull together the right way, and “The Folly of War” is a song that meets this bill perfectly. It feels complicated initially but slowly turns into the kind of casual listening that helped to shape the history of early folk-rock, which isn’t to say its entire premise is rooted in the old guard.
This voice that Nathan is hoisting up before the spotlight is one that lives in the here-and-now, passionately stringing together poetry that is more than a cry for peace – it’s an assertive expression of comradery with the human race. We aren’t listening to a singer/songwriter influenced by bong-sourced clouds of smoke and pipedreams about a free society that can’t exist outside of Jonestown-style convents; these are straightforward verses steeped in honest melodicism, which instantly makes us feel as though we’re sitting before a campfire listening to a true poet rather than someone making a living off of cheap records.
As much a nod to the retro peace and love tracks of yesteryear as it is an acknowledgment of the world as we know it today, “The Folly of War” makes a lot of sense to me and suggests abilities in Neil Nathan that I’d like to hear him utilize even more. He’s relatively simple with his delivery, but the framework is intricate and tethered to personality, making this his sound and his sound alone – at least when he’s singing to us in this performance. His journey could well diversify artistically, but right now, he’s a good singer/songwriter to follow.