And speaking of the Kinks (of whom we really can’t speak enough), here we are treated to two fleeting lyrical references to the great British band, reinforcing a lovely song with a (now that I think about it) distinctly Daviesian brand of conflicted nostalgia. Even without being able to make too much of the lyrics here (and I can’t), there is sweetness, and pining, and a sense that it won’t end well because, well, nothing does in the long run.
Effortlessly melodic, “Second Nature” is propelled by a rhythmic, gently plucked electric guitars emphasizing the “on” beats (one and three) versus rock’n’roll’s classic backbeat (two and four) orientation (cf.: “It’s got a backbeat, you can’t lose it”). One clear lyrical feature here is the purposeful repetition of words and/or sounds in successive lines (e.g., “Sick to death/Sick in bed/Sic the dogs on us instead”), which may or may not be intended as a subtle augmentation of the title phrase but in any case adds to the song’s tender urgency. And I suggest you pay attention to the saxophone when it shows up (1:47, briefly; then, closing the song out from 2:31)—not just because you don’t hear a lot of saxophone in 2015 rock’n’roll but because there seems something inexplicably moving about hearing this instrument presented in such a straightforward way, something about the pure sound of it that captures the subtle heartache of the entire track. And throughout of course there’s the obvious contribution of Longo’s gentle, agile tenor, which lends memorable complexion to every upward sweep of melody.
Matt Longo is a gifted singer/songwriter, based in Queens, NY, whose work has been featured here twice previously, in 2011 and in 2013. He is performing with the name Thin Lear this time around, partially inspired by an absurd image from a dream he had one night. A six-song EP is due out later this fall; you’ll be able to buy it via Bandcamp, and can listen there in the meantime to his past recordings.