Jerry Paper – Abracadabra Album Review

Stones Throw – 2020

Lucas Nathan aka Jerry Paper has been making music longer than most people might think. Originally releasing experimental electronic noise compositions under the Zonotope moniker back in 2011. Nathan then switched to the electro-pop sounds of Diane Kensington Devotional Band before finally landing on the groovy electro-funk world of Jerry Paper. Now Nathan returns with his 10th release under the Jerry Paper name; the second on the Stones Throw label. This time he brings back his weird and wonderful musings on life and refines his sound to be funkier and more psyched out than ever.

Over its 13 track span ‘Abracadabra’ offers an acid tab journey of small snippets into the mind of Nathan, with each track offering a different anecdote or passing emotion. From the quirky ‘Body Builder On The Shore’ to the sombre and remorseful ‘Apologist’, this album isn’t afraid to get a little weird or even a little sad.

The production on this album is some of the most refined on a Jerry Paper album to date, with its soft hazy warm summers day feel. Every instrument packs a punch and stands out clear within the mix. A standout moment is on the track ‘Slow Down, Buddy’ which features a psychedelic wall of harmonies and synthesisers on the chorus line which flows perfectly from the melancholy instrumentation throughout the track. Some of the best drumming and funkiest bass lines come on the tracks ‘Cholla’ and ‘Trash Can’, showcasing how far Nathan’s progressed his funk sound and feel. (He’s also recently started his own series on how to create a funk song over on the ‘Eternal Family‘ web-series, so that you too can be as funky as Jerry Paper). And theres also the rock-centric opener ‘Quicksand’ which might be Nathan’s hardest hitting song ever. It’s got a killer riff and even some hints of Tame Impala levels of psychedelic production.

Nathan’s signature humorous lyrics are ever present, like on the track ‘Drunk Man Talk’ where Nathan just wants to sleep after a party. “In my sleeping bag, drunk man talks to me, I’m trying to sleep I say, He’s begging me please, Just let me tell you me theory of art, please let me tell you why I am so smart”. Theres also songs about new characters Nathan has created, a prominent theme from his 2016 album ‘Toon Time Raw’. With closer ‘Puppeteer’ being about an alien captive who is being surveyed by a mysterious presence. “I trudge back to my cryo-tube post-meal, But no matter how much bread I just don’t feel, Alright, Maybe next few days they’ll release me, Cut me from my strings puppeteer”. It’s this kind of world building that allows Nathan’s music to become more than just funky tunes to chill to, but creates depth to his work if you look into it fully. But theres also a more honest and raw side to Nathan’s lyrics that have always been a part of his storytelling, but really shine through on ‘Abracadabra’. Like the track ‘Memorial Highway’ where sparser instrumentation back lyrics of longing to be remembered positively “And as you cruise, taking in the vista, Through that bird shit covered windshield, I hope you remember me, With a smile”.

My only wish with this album is that it was longer. With most of the tracks only reaching the 2 and a half minute mark they cut out just as they were establishing themselves. It would be nice maybe for the jams to extend or more depth into the stories. But I guess this what we’ve come to know from Nathan, who’s happy to let you know what’s happening inside his mind, without giving too much away.

Another hypnotic output from one of the grooviest musicians around. Creating some of his most danceable tunes to date, whilst still keeping the signature Jerry Paper abnormality.

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