Nate Leavitt and The Elevation
With his 2014 album You, Me and the Silence Nate Leavitt emerged from the side of the stage and announced himself as a gifted artist in his own right. Already a respected guitarist on the Boston scene, the record showcased his rugged vocals and carefully crafted songwriting, gaining him a Boston Music Award nomination in the process. He now returns as the leader of his own gang, a confident frontman inspired by the talented musicians around him.
It makes perfect sense that he would call his band The Elevation. Having played lead guitar in groups such as Delta Clutch, The Blizzard of 78, OldJack and Parlour Bells for a little over twenty years, Leavitt knows all too well how working with others can help songs transcend their origins and elevate performance to a new level. As he says himself “their musicianship pushes me to be a better player and leader, plus they keep me humble and honest.”
Together with bandmates Magen Tracy (piano and backing vocals), Dan Nicklin (harmonica, omnichord, guitar and backing vocals) Brendan Boogie (bass) and Paul Myers (drums), Leavitt has created new EP, Someone Send a Signal. With more and more studios closing every day, the band wanted to capture a unique moment of togetherness whilst they still could and therefore recorded everything at Q Division’s Studio A in Somerville, Ma. The vintage microphones, amplifiers, instruments and classic Neve 8068 Console only added to the timeless feel of the sessions.
The resulting sound can best be described as ghost folk – as if the spirits of Neil Young, Wilco and Butch Walker met up late one night for a secret recording session down in Muscle Shoals. Blending elements of roots, americana and rock, it is the convergence of Leavitt’s musical journey to date. If you listen closely enough you can even hear the influence of 80’s hair metallers, and childhood heroes, Dokken on his guitar playing.
Working with producer and bandmate Dan Nicklin and Q Division engineer Pat Dicenso helped bring out the best of Leavitt and his group. From searching opener Relieve Me to the epic I Can Breathe Again through to the EP’s rousing closing track No Goodbye’s, No Replies it is apparent that letting go a little has freed Leavitt and allowed him to focus on leading his band to a higher plain. Having Pete Lyman (Jason Isbell and Chris Stapleton) at Infrasonic Sound master the record was the final piece of the puzzle and the result is there for all to hear on Someone Send a Signal.
Anyone who has even seen Nate Leavitt and The Elevation live will know all about their intense and moody sound. You might have even witnessed Leavitt have one of “those” moments where he steps outside himself, wholly entwined with his music. Through his involvement with The Outlaw Roadshow, Leavitt can count Adam Duritz of Counting Crows as a fan, and a front row spectator whenever the show rolls into town
At the centre of the project is Leavitt’s introspective songwriting and his continuing search to define life’s contradictions, as well as the resoluteness of the human spirit. “I can be afraid of what comes out when I start writing,” he says “I go deep inside myself to find something to share and it’s a very personal process for me.” The genesis is a simple chord progression or mumbled melody, a bare skeleton to be flesh out and nurtured, either alone or with the help of his band. If you stripped back the layers of sound you would discover a classic singer songwriter but it’s far better to just let Nate Leavitt and The Elevation lift you up and carry you away.
Written by Duncan Haskell