Photo by Elisabeth Fuchsia
On Common Currents, double bassist Nat Baldwin follows up the abstract density of his AUTONOMIA series by returning to the linear song structures that have defined much of his career. The album was written at the beginning of 2020, the first songs he was inspired to create in nearly eight years. While it features the pulsing bowed rhythms, elastic vocal range, and textural ornaments prevalent in earlier work, Common Currents stands out among his dynamic catalog for both its personal intimacy and timely lyrical potency.
The songs explore themes and events that celebrate the human capacity for creativity, solidarity, collective action and change. The opener “All We Want Is Everything” sets the tone, expressing the imagination necessary for radical social transformation. “Abundance” slows the pace with focused intensity, a spacious ballad envisioning the ghosts of IWW labor activist/poet T-Bone Slim and his comrades reemerging from unmarked graves. “Communal Luxury” reflects on the rise and fall of the Paris Commune, its short-lived existence still reverberant after 150 years. “Spectres” offers a concise meditation on connections between past and present, before a haunting rendition of “I Lost Something In the Hills” by Sibylle Baier brings the album to a close.
In contrast to the communal spirit of the content, Baldwin recorded the work himself and performed its entirety without additional instrumentation. The stark atmosphere exposes a raw vulnerability that unfolds as a source of strength.
Recorded over three afternoons in August 2020 at the Apohadion Theater in Portland, Maine, and mastered by Caleb Mulkerin at Tank 28, Common Currents marks Baldwin’s tenth solo release.
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