Nassau are the songwriting duo of Justin Wilcox and Jeffrey Silverstein.
Recalling acts like The Acorn or Vetiver, Nassau’s sound is one of lush, tranquil acoustic guitars, warm pulses of synth and keys and processed drum beats so subtle they’re hardly there at all.
Like so many wonderful musicians, Nassau are based out of Brooklyn. New York City’s most populous borough, Brooklyn is home to over two and half million residents, and over 30% of New York’s total population. A youthful borough with a high level of sustained immigration, Brooklyn is one of the most diverse places on the planet. Brooklyn’s musical heritage barely needs repeating, and the borough has given the world musicians as varied as legendary composer Aaron Copeland, heavy metal legends Type O-Negative, hip-hop superstar Buster Rhymes as well as almost every indie-band you can think of.
Having both previously worked on other musical projects, Nassau formed at the back-end of 2015. They released their debut EP, Hoss, in 2016 and have just released their debut album, Heron, on Fire Talk Records.
Heron is the result of a calculated attempt to take a more deliberate and careful approach to their songwriting. The result is one of the year’s warmest and most approachable records: Heron is simply a beautifully recorded album. Like William Tyler or Wilco before them, Nassau have created something where not a single note seems wasted and not a single sound doesn’t feel thoroughly researched.
Thematically, Heron is a record about change and balance, even the title comes from the way Herons are portrayed in folklore as agents of change and evolution. It was written in a time of huge personal change, and the pair set out to catalogue and question those changes. Attempting to tap into the universal feelings that come with ageing, settling down and how that affects creative endeavours. This is a record of gentle movement, passing seasons, and quiet contemplation of the subtle shifts that shape our place in the world.
The eight tracks that make up Heron represent a cycle of life, a loop of hope and aspiration giving way to some sort of resolution and conclusion. A journey with no particular destination in mind, and no option but to follow the path and perhaps most importantly enjoy the trip. A record that says life changes and we change along with it; life sometimes takes a surprising path, and Heron exists as a series of love songs to our ability to adapt and evolve along with it.
At times these tracks verge on blurring into one pleasant but homogenous wash. The devil is in the detail with Nassau and they require a number of fully focused listens to entirely reveal their undeniable charms.