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Andy LeMaster is no stranger to heart-on-the-sleeve singer-songwriters with quavery voices, having logged plenty of time in the Aughts touring and recording with Bright Eyes. So the Athens, GA producer must have heard a note of familiarity when he set about working on Hiding, Mingling, the debut release from Athens' White Violet, led by Nate Nelson, a young troubadour with a wobble in his warble, and moodiness in spades. While Nelson's voice's isn't that close to Conor Oberst's, nor is his writing as raw, there are moments when the similarities are undeniable. On "Station", this album's most spare and affecting track, as Nelson crisply sings, "I've seen it all now, for me-e-e", the spirit of the Omahan is there in the room.
Mope and melancholy reigns on Hiding, Mingling and there's a recurring dichotomy of day and night -- the late nights of "4am", the tortured, pretty "Tight Rope", the bluesy meandering of "Second Wind", an ode to lost love, and "Blame" in which Nelson blames it "on the moon" and puts his "faith in sound". At one point the tone lightens considerably: "Everyday is Listening", the most upbeat track on the debut, a gently rollicking centerpiece.
White Violet apparently began as a Nelson solo project, but with the increasing participation of Brad Elliott, Vaughan Lamb and Josh McCauley, has grown into a full-fledged band. If Hiding, Mingling is any indication, we've likely only just begun to hear from them.