Wow, it’s been over three years since we last talked to singer-songwriter, folk punk rocker, workaholic, and engaging storyteller Nate Allen, and his new project Good Saint Nathanael and its therapeutic and poetic debut record “Hide No Truth” made me realize how much I missed such vulnerable, melancholic and self-confessed offerings that go under your skin. Quiet, haunting, emotional, and spiritual, the moving masterpiece was released earlier this month and it documents the troubled and reflective man meanderings that creates an introspective masterwork that sounds like the fullest realization of Nate Allen so far. We’re honored to give you a proper, full presentation of this great work, along with Nate’s commentary on each and every track!
For fans of Tom Waits, Bill Callahan, Pedro The Lion / David Bazan, Damien Jurado, Mount Eerie, Julian Baker, John Prine, Jason Isbell, John Moreland, The Weakerthans / John K Samson, Sufjan Stevens, Wovenhand, Johnny Cash (the heaviness of his later work), Listener, Mewithoutyou, Tom Petty, Rich Mullins, The Hold Steady, The Mountain Goats, Robert Deeble, & Frank Black.
“On Hide No Truth, veteran songwriter Nate Allen wrestles with devastation, spiritual abuse, and personal growth. Choosing to walk through the pain, he emerges with a dark, hauntingly stark folk record about his Christian religious faith experience and its complications. The result is a melancholic, heartfelt, and hard to forget album. In his new project, Good Saint Nathanael, Nate Allen establishes himself as a songwriter to be reckoned with.”
It’s been a harrowing and terrifying process to birth this album but so far people seem to connect deeply with it.
With his new project Good Saint Nathanael, Nate Allen is turning to face his demons leading with a rare-disarming vulnerability. On Hide No Truth (available on Feb. 1st), the harder Nate looks at himself in the mirror, the more humanity reveals its bitter, beautiful complexity. The nine songs on Hide No Truth find Nate stripping back his sonic pallet to reveal stark, memorable, acoustic songs full of detail and intention. In what is a cathartic move towards self-choice, honest art and emotional health, Nate uses religious language to explore human vulnerability and his own broken Christian religious experience.
Hide No Truth was recorded and mixed by Jon Terrey (Listener, The Chariot). Then Nate assigned different friends to add whatever their vision of “noise” was to each track, further adding to the haunting soundscape. Lastly, the record was mastered by Jim Demain at Yes Master Studios (John Prine, Frank Black, June Carter Cash).
1) Everything That’s Lost
“Everything That’s Lost” is filled with longing, regret, hopes, and wishes. Most people I know would like to clean up some of their family history. This song walks the fine line between focusing intently on the past and longing for a better future. My dream is that perhaps all the subconscious pain we all carry around causing us to hurt each other will one day be resolved.
I am a workaholic. I share this trait with many people that I know. It’s a socially acceptable addiction particularly common to the many artists, caregivers (pastors, therapists, etc) and business owners that I know. What I’m talking about is more than just hard work but broken internal systems of motivation that eventually harm others.
My work addiction was and often is fueled by a deeper than normal desire to be loved and valued. This makes sense because my greatest fear is rejection.
“Heaven” is a song that unpacks layers of my broken patterns that are often fueled by the religious systems I grew up in, which valued clean appearance and effort above almost everything else.
“Concrete” is a song where each verse is a separate story, telling of times I wept for at least 30 minutes. These three incidents have altered the course of my life. Here’s an example of what I’m talking about. The first verse is a story about an incident where I had my leg broken in a bicycle accident and to this day when I attempt an extreme activity such as skateboarding or going on a thrill-ride my body freaks out and essentially won’t allow me to participate like a normal human. An overriding internal panic takes over as soon as I attempt the activity. This is essentially Fight, Flight or Freeze, and means there are parts of that particular trauma that remained unresolved and take over when I participate in activities my mind says are similar.
4) Coming Unglued
I spent 12 years in dysfunctional christian schools. I remember a moment in the 3rd grade where I came home and asked my mom “why don’t the christians act like christians.” The disconnect between a person’s faith and their actions is all too common in my story. This song is in part about that contrast and contradiction, while also acknowledging there are elements of the faith I still hold and also that there are people I may have a hard time trusting that wish the best for me and are indeed good people.
5) Making Repairs
A song of surrender, “Making Repairs” revolves around the acknowledgement that even though I love touring and similar activities, I was and am broken and that the only way to heal from my many wounds is to stop blindly following the cycles of non-stop movement and striving.
As a result of my slowing down, I have become a firm believer in the recovery process and the belief that if we work on our brokenness we can learn new and healthier ways to create that aren’t motivated by broken patterns.
“Lightning” is a lonely, quiet, finger-picked folk song about the damages of misused power, withdrawal from those we care about, and the enticement of easy comforts that lead to actions that hurt anyone in our path, including those we most love. When I started to write “Lightning” it was about “the people of power”, but it quickly became a reflective apology about my own journey and mistakes.
I. Hate. Pain. I have found that I have a habit of putting myself in harms way to prevent people from getting hurt. That being said, “Bombs” is a prayer I’m pretty sure will never be answered. Unfortunately, it seems that there are often unintended consequences to even our most basic actions.
I know personally I can very easily turn a blind eye to the pain in others. I am not proud of this. That being said, as long as pain exists I hope to be fighting it as long as I live.
We all have demons, many of mine happen to be “christian” or at least a result of the complicated relationship I have with the Church. I view the people and power structures of the church as both the catalyst for my abuse and also a positive force in my formation. I have met many great people along this life way that have been unbelievably supportive.
As I’ve gone through a 5 year process of deconstruction, I have been discovering that I can not only disagree with people but also choose who I am and what I want to be. It’s a freeing place after years of being driven by fear (which I have found is common for abuse victims). “Trust” is a hardfought gospel song about where I am now.
When I talk about “Better”, I often get a picture of grabbing someone by the back of the neck and teaching them a lesson. The catch is I’m also being taught the lesson and because I’m an optimist, I believe any and all of us can learn to treat people better. Unfortunately, I often default to my own self-interest – which means I turn a blind eye to evil in my own neighborhood and around the world. If there is an uplifting song on Hide No Truth, this is it.
Have you ever looked down at a pool of water to see your own reflection? To see your own features looking right back up at you, telling you that, yes, you do exist. Probably. But have you ever stolen a glance when someone else is looking into their own pool at their own feet, only to notice how fragile their eyes are, how intimate the stare? If so, then you understand the music of Good Saint Nathanael, the new musical project from Kansas City songwriter, Nate Allen.
But before starting his latest endeavor, Allen’s songwriting springs had origins in other oceans. His art has mainly been focused around Destroy Nate Allen, traveling hard and often for many years, logging more than 1,000 shows around the country since 2006. Over time, the project’s once quiet roots were traded for exuberant playfulness. But as life slowly shifted, the whispers of Nate’s heart demanded to be heard.
Trying to process an evolved musical reality, Allen, who now trades in areas of self-reflection and personal therapies, has written a new, tender record, Hide No Truth, set for a February 1st release. The nine-track debut displays a distinct folk prowess and a voice that seems to break in a thousand different places. The project is like a single drop of rain falling from the sky, knowing its fate but relishing nevertheless in hopeful regeneration. – Jake Uitti
Album Mini-Doc/Trailer: this is the documentary tells the story behind Hide No Truth:
Filmed and Edited by Richie Wolf; Music by Jess Von Strantz; Footage of Nate playing by laying by Nick Howland, Larissa and Jessie Van Der Vyver
Hide No Truth Documentary Transcript:
Nate Allen, Good Saint Nathanael, Destroy Nate Allen
The project name came from a song I wrote called “Good Saint Nathanael”. Someone asked me what, who that character was and the more I thought about it, I realized that Good Saint Nathanael to me was, something to drive for. I think on our best days maybe for even just a few seconds or minutes we all have, saintly actions and so for me saying, this project’s good saint Nathanael, I’m aspiring to have more of those, good moments where I treat my, my fellow man really well, and less like time where it’s just focused about me.
Ryan Sollee, The Builders and The Butchers
Recently did a show with Nate where he did all the tunes from, hide no truth and, it’s one of the bravest, pieces of art that I’ve ever witnessed and I think this is a totally brilliant record.
Sally Grayson, Black Swift
Good Saint Nathael’s new album Hide No Truth is dripping with sorrow mixed with hope. It has mournful soundscapes that are brutally raw, yet speak of healing and transformation. I highly recommend this album. It is like medicine for your soul.
I was writing these songs and they were just getting more and more personal, like more and more intense and I went through a book called The Artist’s Way – I think it was three years ago we did it – and realized that I needed to write a record about my faith experience. As I started writing I just, I continued to tap into more and more pain that you know, was, is still present but was just, like, kind of around every corner I’d look deeper and deeper and it would just be like, “Oh gosh, this hurts more; it still affects me”. Realizing that the interactions I’d had with the faith community over my life had the same effects of someone who’d been in an abusive relationship. Like I didn’t want to talk about faith for fear of rejection, for fear of, like, like devastation. I figured if somebody knew about the elements of my life that had involved, you know, like, church missions, pastoring, I just felt like my faith interactions and my past – it was just this big black cloud kinda hanging over me and when I had the lightbulb moment where it felt like maybe this is abuse, I felt like I was able to start wrestling and fighting with it – maybe having some positive action instead of just running from my past.
Shelly Butler, Flying Eagle Gallery, Songwriter
This could be a great album for a lot of folks who might have wounding from the church, growing up in it or being outside of it and judged by it. I think your message about grace and healing and love is good and strong and needed.
Ciara Barsotti, Visual Artist, creator of the Scoutaroo Zine
What I love about Hide No Truth is that despite that place of pain, it refuses to turn its back on that church and gives a lot of hope that it’s still worth loving, which I find really refreshing and encouraging.
I beat myself up over my ineptitude for years my inability to talk about faith matters meant that I was, you know, violating those scriptures that talk about going into all the world and preaching the gospel. We just saw a guy on a soapbox when we drove down the street this afternoon and I mean, I felt like the, the religion I grew up in said that if you weren’t that guy on the soapbox you were essentially choosing that everyone you met would just be going to hell and it was your fault. And that guilt ate me alive. I’m a person who wants to help people, and who will work really hard to help his friends and so, the thought that I was intentionally damning people to hell, was really intense and really conflicted and I didn’t know how to talk about it, so I just buried it.
Michael Flowers, Rector, St. Aidan’s in Kansas City, Songwriter
Nate’s lyrics are like the words, unless a grain of wheat fall into the ground and die, they can’t produce life. He’s singin’ about that life that’s fallen into the ground and died, seeing the darkness of that death with hope of resurrection.
Jess Von Strantz, Von Strantz, Native Land
So, what I absolutely love about the Good Saint Nathanael record is, to me it feels like a safe place, you know, all of us have pain, all of us have something that we’ve gone through and, you know, I think in our culture and society we try to fix it. We try to resolve it. We try to put a band aid on it and, I love that this record doesn’t have that resolve. it’s a safe place for us to sit and be exactly where we’re at and accept where we’re at and embrace the pain and see the beauty in the midst of that.
Jessi Dills, Clinical Therapist, Dissonance & Dissent
When you’re listening to Hide No Truth, you can, you can genuinely hear a man changing and growing as a human being. You can hear Nate, tangibly healing emotionally through his music.
This record for me is very much a therapeutic journal entry, working through my process, hoping that in some way it can help other people unlock and have permission to work through their vulnerable, painful moments in their past and realize that that doesn’t have to be the defining factor in their story.
Levi Macallister, Levi The Poet
It’s a record that resonates whether, tonally – just because it’s something that, musically I’m more attracted to – or contextually because I can relate to some of the emotional and spiritual and – because of that – often physical, turmoil that it took to get this record to where Nate needed it to be. And I am proud of him for pushing through all that he has chosen to sing about in order to create something that is more than reactionary and vitriolic and instead something that has taken pain and turned it into beauty.
Evan Linville, Children’s Therapist, Artist
Man, the whole work is incredibly reflective. Honestly, right now I have gotten so hooked on the song Lightning. I’ve probably listened to it twenty times. it’s, just opened up a big space for my own reflection and has provided me some solace.
All that swirling, all that complication was poured into a record of quiet, dark, stark folk songs that was just me and a guitar alone in a room, stripping back click tracks, stripping back anything to really get in the way of the raw emotion of the songs, and then had some friends come in and add noise-so keys, guitar, we actually have some harp on there, some cicadas, some broken tape noise, there’s all sorts of fun organs, double bass. Hide No Truth to me is really about, facing personal demons, walking through spiritual abuse to kinda come out the other side and end in a place that is better than where you started. It’s more content. It’s, the quietest thing I’ve ever recorded in my life. Life doesn’t always have to be comfortable; it doesn’t always have to be moving in a, a peaceful, good, easy direction, uh, to still be moving in what feels like a needed direction, and that – to me – is a lot of, what, what this record’s about.