Big Mosquito Music
P.O. Box 773366
Eagle River, AK 99577-3366
A review for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Blanche Johnson
Lou Nathanson's "Genetically Enhanced" is a gently humorous look at the human condition. Nathanson, transplanted to Alaska from New York City, takes the listener on a fanciful tour of the wilds of Alaska as well as the wilds of our own existence.
Nathanson pokes at the cerebral and the mundane, throws in a tall tale or two and even includes a couple of lovely ballads. The targets of his satire include: modern day technology, hyphenating children's names, answering machines, and adolescent fumblings.
This is at its base, an album about the artist's adopted home. "Trapline Chatter" lists a series of messages the likes of which could be heard on A Prairie Home Companion if it originated in Juneau, Alaska. "Mosquito Showdown" and "Man's Best Friend" are a couple classic old timer's yarns about battling the wilderness and harnessing (or attempting to) the canine power of a team of sled dogs. "A Nice Place to Visit" illustrates why Nathanson claims the title of the Alaskan Chamber of Commerce's worst nightmare and contains some truly hilarious lines.
Just when you peg Nathanson as a wisecracking clown, he shows a completely different side to his songwriting talent. "Breakup" is a haunting ballad of the spring thaw. The achingly beautiful harmonies on this song have been drifting through my head for weeks now. This is a song to carry you through a long winter if ever I've heard one. "Duct Tape Madrigal in Cmaj" is an ode to duct tape of which Ernie Brouwer would be proud!
The instrumentation on this disc is quite varied, running from fiddle & banjo to flute, cello, trombone - even some accordion. There is an overall old-timey feeling to most of the songs, but there are also nice touches of jazz and western swing. "Genetically Enhanced" is essentially a disc to listen to after a long day, when you want to sit back, relax, and just smile. :-)