Album Review :
Destroy Nate Allen - Until My Ankle's Better
Band: Destroy Nate Allen
Title: Until My Ankle’s Better
Release Date: 8/13/2010
Reviewer: Joshua Hedlund
- My Momma Sang Gospel Songs
- The Circle Must Be Broken
- Blood on the Banjo
- Borthwick & Failing
- Sunday Afternoon
- Fruit Punch & Alcohol
- I Wanna Let You Out of the Box
- Math, I Will Defeat You
- Land of Oppertunity
- Small Town
- It’s A Beautiful Thing
- Put Your Head on My Shoulder
- Shaken To My Feet
- Shoes and Socks
After kicking off with an a capella gospel homage from Nate’s mother, Until My Ankle’s Better quickly delves into the duo’s trademark quirky acoustic jams full of passion, vulnerability, and joy. For the most part it’s similar to previous material, although by now Tessa has been fully integrated into her husband Nate’s music. This album was recorded with fellow Portland friend and musician Tyler Hentschel (of Insomniac Folklore), and as a result it features a few additional vocals and layerings.
Even so, you’re going to be disappointed if you listen to these tracks expecting something aesthetically beautiful or mindblowingly original. Nate’s guitar work here doesn’t stray far from fairly basic punk-rooted chords and rhythms, and neither of them worry much about singing in key all the time.
But if these songs of life and love don’t make you smile, you’re probably missing the point. The short tracks (mostly around two minutes apiece) are really just trying to become the grown-up version of your favorite childhood sing-alongs, with lines like “I need to take the trash out / from the middle of the floor / cuz when the trash is taken out / it won’t smell no more.”
Their faith is a combination of the traditional (“My identity is secure, in Christ and Christ alone / I am whole and made complete.”) and the not-so-traditional (“Jesus drank more alcohol than I will ever know / yes he turned that water into wine, the Bible tells me so”), but it’s always seasoned with understanding and sincerity. Nate actually presents some pleasantly balanced views on everything from alcohol and anarchy to responsibility and renting. The continuously interesting lyrics help pull along the album and keep you from getting too bored with the music, where the sing-along choruses threaten to become a little repetitive.
Tessa adds tambourine and affectionate harmony to Nate’s acoustic guitar and bleating vocals, and occasionally she’ll burst into a charmingly punchy phrase (“Math, I will defeat you!”). Instruments like kazoos and organs dot the landscape along with the vocal oh‘s and doot-doo‘s.
Nate slows down the strumming for “Small Town,” a sweet song about growing up on the west coast and meeting his girl from the east coast. The couple’s affection for each other comes out clearer when you see them in person – as does their music in general – but the recordings do manage to capture a few glimpses. Another song beckons, “Put your head on my shoulder, and we’ll wake up one day older, just you and I, you and I.”
By the time the album closes, you almost feel like you’ve gotten to know this simple, charming couple who travels the country playing basement shows and trusting in God’s provision. If the Allens are ever in your town, it’ll be worth your time. As always, the recordings are less palatable for some than others, but don’t miss out on the free-or-donation downloads at destroynateallen.bandcamp.com.