Review: Nate Parrish - I'm a Wreck

Zachary Tyler Van Dyke
Zachary Tyler Van Dyke   Follow

Band: Nate Parrish

Album: I'm a Wreck

Record Label:  Independent

Released Date: June 19, 2020

**Genre: ** Rock/Punk

Tracklist:

  1. I'M A WRECK (03:25)
  2. MIND MONOPOLY (03:53)
  3. LOSERS (03:06)
  4. POLITICIANS AND CELEBRITIES (03:58)
  5. HOUSE MADE OF MIRRORS (03:14)
  6. THINGS MY FATHER TAUGHT ME (03:05)
  7. MONSTERS (04:12)
  8. EVERYTHING IS OUTRAGE (03:03)
  9. PERMANENCE (03:02)
  10. HOPE (03:36)

It’s about time Nate Parrish gets some attention for his solo music, because, dang, is it good! If you don’t know who Nate is, if you’ve listened to Kutless, you know his work. He is one of the guitarists for the band and recently started working on a solo career that, if you’re hoping sounds like Kutless, you won’t find. But, don’t lose heart – his new album, I’m A Wreck, is an excellent punk-influenced album that hits a lot of the notes you’d expect from a punk album: self-deprecating lyrics, frantic beats, social and political commentary, and, perhaps unlike punk, a healthy dose of hope. I was pleasantly surprised by this album, and find myself continuing to return to it and humming the songs in my head throughout the day. Now, let’s dive into a track by track review.

I’m A Wreck: Fitting that the title track opens up the album – it opens listeners up to what they can expect from this album. I heard this song during their set at ContagionFest, and this song surprised me. I was not expecting horns to kick off the album at all, but I love this song. Maybe it’s the saxophone, but it reminds me a bit of The Rocket Summer’s So Much Love. I thoroughly enjoyed this track lyrically, too. As a song full of lyrical dissonance (happy song, somewhat down lyrics), I found myself connecting with this song. Especially the lines, “I’m caught between my culture and conviction; the line has gone between what’s wrong and right… I’m caught between my faith and my frustration; somewhere between belief and fear.” Given our current social climate, I haven’t felt a lyric like this in a while. Also, before moving on, I want to just point out that Nate’s voice is perfect for this style of music, and I could listen all day.

Mind Monopoly: Serving as a commentary on the distrust between society and media, this song is a stinging bite at the hypocrisy of the media, our tendency to follow without question, and the need to “Bite the hand that feeds.” The thesis of this song is found in the bridge: “We’re in a digital cage in the information age.” Set to a 4/4 rhythm, this song has a very infectious pop-punk vibe to it. The ending of overlapping vocals is delightful and incredibly fitting to the number of voices we have shouting at us at all hours of the day. I agree with Nate in this song. We need to think for ourselves and question things. Don’t just follow something because it sounds good; this applies to several aspects of life, including our pastors. We should investigate things for ourselves, study the things that are important to us, and not just take professional’s word for it. As a pastor, I encourage the congregation I serve to never just take what I say as golden – study it for yourself too. Anyway, great song.

Losers: The strumming pattern and chord progression in the opening of this song give me major I’m Already Gone by A Day to Remember vibes. There is a lot of emotion even just in the strings of that particular pattern of chords, and I’m here for it. Honestly, I don’t feel the chorus too strongly, in terms of the music. Lyrically, I love this song – but I feel like there’s a lack of cohesion between the instrumentation and the vocal delivery. The verses don’t have this disconnect, so it’s not the whole song, just the chorus that doesn’t land well for me. In any case, the lyrics of this song are definitely what makes it stand out. It’s an encouragement to live as world-defined losers. This is something I struggle with as a Christian. I think most people if they’re honest, want to be successful in the world’s terms. However, being a believer, I work to leave my ambition at the foot of the cross and consider my success in terms of eternity and the way my life reflects Christ. If that has me defined as a loser, I will gladly let this song be my anthem.

Politicians and Celebrities: This song makes me delightfully happy. Almost giddy. I have often wondered why we give so much weight to celebrity opinions; why do we follow politicians blindly based on the R or D that follows their name? Nate clearly denounces these things while pointing out the foolishness of it. “The rest of us just wait for you to tell us what to think, tell us what to say… they’re scripting our reality. We’re a means to their end, these people aren’t your friends. They just play them on T.V.” Honestly, this is such an important song for our current political climate. Don’t give too much weight to a person whose profession is portraying someone other than who they are, and honestly, is there a single politician we could ever trust? Maybe, but I haven’t really seen one. I really enjoy this song. Musically it’s pretty straightforward; it’s obvious that the lyrics are supposed to be what this song is centered on.

House Made of Mirrors: Ready for another politically leaning song that points out the inconsistencies in our division? Well, here we go. I enjoy the way this song almost feels restrained musically. Even though the beat is a pretty steady 4/4, the musicality is very reserved – again, pointing to the importance of the message. Basing this off of my Christianity, I feel like this is another very important song for us to listen to, given the American political scene. Christians are being told left and right that they have to vote a certain way if they’re to be consistent with their faith. While I have my convictions regarding certain things, not every Christian is walking my walk. Knowing this, allowing their political leanings to influence how I react to and treat them is a poor reflection of the love of Christ we’re supposed to have. Nate echoes this a bit: “We lose our name when a label’s all we give. Don’t let the group-think tell you how to live. We sharpen our teeth for the reply… We’ll never see change in our lifetime if we live in a house made of mirrors.” Honestly, we are too quick to reply that we’re not even listening to each other. Read the book of Corinthians – we should never be so divided that we can’t even speak to one another or disagree without being enemies. We have to be better.

Things My Father Taught Me: This is an incredibly touching tribute to Nate’s dad, and there are some amazing bits of advice in this song. Honestly, if you need some advice, just listen to this track. Musically, this reminds me of something you might hear from Mumford & Sons or maybe a slower track from Flatfoot 56. I really enjoy this song. As much as I love heavy music, there is something about a well written acoustic song that really resonates with me. Perhaps it’s the words of the song, but this is one of the songs on this album that stands out to me as one of the best. Here are just some of the bits of advice found in this song: “Get you a backbone of steel, but don’t forget how to feel… Be a man of few words, because there’s enough noise in the world. It’s not what you say, but how you act.” I’ll be adding this to my playlists and listening again and again.

Monsters: This may be the most driven song on this album, and the bassline is amazing (something that typically doesn’t get much credit, but it is excellent). If I’m honest, this song took me until about the second chorus to understand lyrically – but I finally got the metaphor, and I love it. I’ll explain the metaphor as I understand it, maybe not so much how Nate meant it. In my mind, this is the second most obvious “about Christ” song on the album. Taking the idea of past mistakes and sins as “monsters under the bed” and running with it, Nate makes a great parallel between how we tend to live our lives. “Stepping into the light we realize that we’ve all got shadows” is a fun way to point out that we all have pasts that we cannot escape, no matter how much we may want to. He follows this up with the line, “Most of us aren’t blind, we never open our eyes. Some of us will live our whole lives never being alive.” The redeeming point of all of this is found in the chorus of this song: “I see the light in your eyes. And though the world seems so dark, we can see just fine. And all the monsters, they live under my bed; You scared, you scared away, so I can dream again.” This is a great way to describe what it’s like to give yourself to Christ and allow him to lavish his love and forgiveness over us. This is an excellent song.

Everything Is Outrage!: You can sum this song up in the chorus – “We are living on anger and fear. When everything is an outrage, we scream but no one hears. Manufactured sense of morality; you care when it helps your cause. You’re using offense as a currency to buy your way to the top.” This song is the “heaviest” of the song in terms of its music. The guitars are more driven and down-tuned, Nate’s vocals sound agitated and angry. That said, I do think that, in terms of the production quality, this doesn’t feel as polished as the rest of the album. Maybe that was intentional, but it stands out in a not-so-great way for me. Like Politicians and Celebrities, this song makes me happy. I applaud Nate for taking a stand and calling out the hypocrisy of using “offense” as a weapon/currency. After all, “there’s safety in a mob mentality.” I’m tired of political fights, honestly. Especially from Christians. I get there are important political issues that we must take a stand on; but when we allow that to affect our commonality (“The common ground erodes beneath us.”) and drive a wedge between us, what kind of witness are we (speaking directly to Christians) being to the rest of the world. What happens to our reflection of Christ when we allow our political views to drive us apart from others? Something to think about.

Permanence: This song has a phenomenal bassline, too. Catchy, engaging, and incredibly honest – this is probably my second favorite track off this album. Nate’s voice sounds very reminiscent of Jason Dunn (ex-Hawk Nelson) in this song, and it sounds very vulnerable. The lyrics here echo the ebb and flow of faith that a lot of people feel: “And every time I say another prayer, I must admit, at times it feels like you’re not there… I’ve been searching for a permanent solution; every step has always led me right back here to you.” The pacing of this song is phenomenal. This is one song on the album that, in my mind, feels like every piece fits perfectly. Every instrument, every note – it all complements each other all the way through the track. What a great track – another that I’ll come back to again and again.

Hope: Nate, not knowing that I was writing this review, asked me to react to this song (you can find the reaction on my YouTube Channel (opens new window)). Let me tell you now, this is my favorite song off of this album. Musically, this reminds me a bit of some of the softer songs Dropkick Murphy’s has done – sans bagpipes and flutes. I get lost in the instrumentation of this song. Like Permanence, I feel like everything on this track is incredibly cohesive. Lyrically, this song was so good and reminded me of Hebrews 6:19: “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure” (CSB). When Nate practically shouts out: “When there’s not much to hold; when you feel like letting go; hold on to hope”, I get chills – seriously, this song is so good. I love that this album, which has been somewhat lyrically dissonant, ends on a positive note (both musically and lyrically). “Faith has become my eyes and hope the only anchor of my soul, and I won’t let go” are the words that close this song, and the album. I love the way this bookends the album: it opens up with the admission that “I’m a wreck” and ends with holding on to hope. In my mind, this song serves as the thesis for the entire album: when life seems to have become a bit of a wreck, still hold on to hope. I can’t get enough of this song.

Overall, I’m A Wreck is an incredibly impressive debut solo outing for Nate Parrish. Given that the music I knew him from falls more into CCM/Hard Rock territory with Kutless, I was happy (and surprised) to hear the music holding a punk rock feel to it. I have very little criticism for the album as a whole; really the only “issues” I could even point out was the production in Everything Is Outrage! and how I felt that the chorus of Losers lacked cohesion. I am absolutely taken aback by the outstanding effort Nate put forward here with this album, and I am greatly looking forward to what he does in the future.


High Point: Permanent

Low Point: Losers

Favorite tracks: Tie between Hope, Permanent, and Things My Father Taught Me

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Rating: 8/10