Blue Clouds is a slice of unending leisure. Each song on the EP is laced with longing references to a “you.” Yet, the true subject of this love letter doesn’t seem to be a person as much as it is the languor of youth, the potential of an upcoming weekend, the somehow satisfying melancholy of being in love. At certain points, Nathaniel Stephens’ deep, almost guttural vocals coast into a delicate tremor, a tenderness saved for looking into a blue sky with the best people you know.
The EP’s six tracks are carefully arranged, beginning with a short “Interlude” that could act as an overview of Stephens’ unhurried “paradise” and a love that belongs “amongst the stars.” This first track introduces a stripped guitar style and raw choppiness that continues for the rest of the EP. The next two tracks embody a melancholic balance between deep appreciation for “harmony” and a lovesick helping of the blues. Stephens’ lyrics seesaw between a sense of awareness for the vast life ahead and a very specific dynamic between two people. The fourth track, “Lady Killer,” kills me (Stephens wrote it about himself). “Backyard Dreaming” returns to the overall Blue Clouds vibe of simple, open-ended living. The EP ends with my personal favorite, “Free.” The simple and loose rhyme scheme, the repetition of “You’re doing fine,” and the first mention of Stephens’ tension about the future: he’s “gotta take a stand… gotta be a man in time.” The tracks form a neat and leisurely arc, that concludes with something of an open ending, a call-to-action for a person at the beginning of their life.
Nathaniel, in his own words, about his solo album: