“Waiting” is De Natale’s classic love ballad, proclaiming, “And you are all I ever wanted and more / And your love is everything I waited for” – although it is sung to someone perhaps yet to exist in the protagonist’s life. This eternal - and internal - conflict is in pondering the merits of something worth waiting for, and the agony in such waiting, as De Natale asks sweetly: “please don’t keep me waiting anymore.” It’s a shame that Redoubt didn’t release earlier this month, as “Waiting” would have make the perfect tune on a romantic Valentine’s Day playlist. For those who celebrate it, anyway. Luckily Redoubt is out now for those of us who observe emotion on a year-round basis.
The beat picks up for “Ways to Die,” as De Natale jams out vocally as well as instrumentally. Raw and vibrant, the elements in this song are polished, but the urgency underneath comes through strong. This flow between quiet confessions and proud hollerings is a hallmark of the album, a testament to both De Natale’s vision and talent, and the production of the release. There’s a reason you don’t have to constantly be turning the volume on your radio dial up and down; most mass-produced music aims for a narrow range of dynamics and volume output. But in the artistry of small releases, niche genres, and tunes that may only hit local stations, creativity reigns supreme. With Redoubt, De Natale has made something your ear wants to hear, picking from a wide palette of volumes, textures, beats, and tones to make one acoustically colorful piece of art.
When listening to a new artist, there is often a song that when discovered, makes or breaks them for me. Either my reaction trends toward, “yeah no, not so much,” and they fade into obscurity. Or (or) that song has me thinking, “yes – more of this please” and I go on to keep track of that artist on and off for years. It's easy for me to say that “The Cure,” especially in the moment De Natale dips his voice low and sings, “I am defeated by the way you sing / You make a sound and silence everything,” has won me over. The upbeat jam in the middle, contrasted by the introspective interludes, and the joyous finish all point to the star track of the album, whether that was its intention or not.
“What You Took,” gets really personal – or at least we are to think so. A bitter end and a grudge not yet forgiven leads De Natale to wail, “I’m just making up for what you took,” as he holds his own instrumentally, just him and the guitar. Almost hinting at an older style of country, it’s the most specific song lyrically, and the one that holds Redoubt down to Earth amidst other vague or seemingly fantastic thoughts.
Unfortunately, “Texas” turns in a different direction, playing off stereotypes of roaming off to find oneself by love of a foreign woman. While it’s an old traditional type of tune, De Natale’s song feels forced. The rest of the album portrays him as a hopeless romantic who won’t settle for anything but the truest of loves. So for him to run off and “find a dark-skinned beauty and present her with a ring,” just doesn’t ring true. However, “Ontario” closes the album on an authentic note, musing lightly over the words, “Breathe out, breathe in / Fill the space inside your chest.” The gentle strumming and low-key vibe close Redoubt on a calmer wave than I was hoping for, but it’s not uncharacteristic or unfitting.
In the end, Redoubt is a genuinely beautiful album. The instrumentation alone is enough to carry its weight, although the narratives De Natale weave move Redoubt past having only beauty, but meaning. And the moments which might, in a lesser songwriter’s hand, fall prey to the tender danger that is gooey sentimental thought, remain steadfast and mature. I happen to prefer the first half of the album over the second, with tighter songwriting and a more cohesive nature between the tracks. But the album as a whole is worthy of a listen, if not many – depending on your taste. You’ll never know, however, if you don’t give Redoubt a listen in the first place.