Jerry Paper is not who he seems. No, Jerry is not his real name, and get this: he’s apparently not even human. He’s an advanced entity using the body of twenty-eight year old Lucas Nathan as a musical host, paying homage to its homeland and graciously tagging all of its creations as “eleventh dimension pop.” This is, of course, if you take that as well as the other hidden hints in the liner notes of his various bandcamp releases seriously – “music and lyrics channeled through Lucas Nathan,” “special thanks to Lucas Nathan for donating his body to the cause,” “special thanks to Jerry’s host body, Lucas Nathan.”
These jokes, of course, do not take away from Nathan’s remarkable skill, nor his brilliantly written, ambitious lyrical narratives that touch on everything from religion to metaphysics to the occasional dystopian nursery rhyme (his 2016 album Toon Time Raw! is…an experience, to say the least). In fact, this penchant for humor within his comparably more meticulous, focused music – a tantalizing mixture of lounge music, psychedelic synth pop, and bossa nova – as well as his bizarrely clever music videos is ultimately what makes his music all the more charming, solidified by a wonderful article on Nathan by the FADER in 2014:
“He’s cloaking serious ideas in the midst of surrealist frivolity, like a spoonful of sugar to philosophy’s medicine. Other artists may fear not being taken seriously, but Nathan can’t imagine a world where his metaphysical pop tunes wouldn’t be infiltrated by mirthful runs of sub-Seinfeld slap bass. “There’s no point in not having fun with it,” he says. “It’s not even an option. It just seems like a false reflection of life.””
However, despite the vast aesthetic range of his past releases, Nathan recently explained that his upcoming full length Like A Baby – which will also be his first official release for Stone’s Throw Records – will most likely be the most “realized version of his fantasy” yet, partly due to how many people he got to help him with it – people like Natalie Mering of Weyes Blood, Mild High Club’s Alex Brettin on individual tracks, and Matty Tavares of BADBADNOTGOOD co-producing the entire album with him – and partly due to the jarring feeling of the period which it was created, in the aftermath of moving back to his native California after living in New York for the past decade. Despite the latter part of that statement, his first two tracks “Your Cocoon” and “Grey Area” are nevertheless crystal clear and near flawless in production, also emphasizing something not completely in the spotlight before – his smooth, rich voice. In fact, his voice is the main stunner in his latest tease “My God,” a humorous, yet somewhat too-true-to-life narrative on capitalism’s firm grasp on us, complete with the ability to follow you well into the afterlife.
Nathan tells his next of kin in-betwixt deep, brooding basslines to bury him “with receipts,” to “calculate the cost of [his] life down to a single cent” to make things easier for the entity sending him to his final resting place. The instrumentals swell and build, but his sarcasm still soars above them, explaining in a rich, honeyed croon that “when I cross through/ Those pearly gates/ I’ll toss all my paychecks/ At the feet of my God,” and that his minions will “add [his] net worth” to his checking account while they’re at it. The eerie, unsettling horn section that closes out the track acts almost like an ironic little serenade played by the cherubim, welcoming him into whatever version of the afterlife he’s imagined. Or, since the accompanying music video shows his papers being denied, he’s most likely going to have to start all over (hint hint).
Like A Baby will be released on October 12 via Stone’s Throw Records.
photo by Joe Leavenworth/ Stone's Throw Records