“Somewhere in trying to figure out how to craft a good song, I figured out how not to just write a pile of sad songs,” Nate Fredrick says about his new album, Different Shade of Blue. “It’s not that my situation is different or even better, but I’ve found a different way to perceive my personal circumstances.”
That level of introspection is clear throughout Fredrick’s debut album, 11 tracks recorded at Nashville’s Farmland Studios with producer David Dorn. The collection sounds as familiar as what you might hear on a friend’s back porch, but Fredrick’s lyrics are bound to get stuck in your head as he works through his relationship to both himself and his home—where he’s from as well as Nashville, where he moved in 2015.
A native Missourian, Nate learned to play guitar after his dad brought one home—that he never learned to play—when Nate was 12. But he didn’t start writing songs until a decade later.
“A friend and I were running from the police one night, and I accidentally fell off a cliff,” Nate says. “During the two-year recovery process, I started actually making music instead of just playing music. The first show I ever had, I played with my jaw wired shut.”
His bluesy Americana style is the result of influences such as Guy Clark, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Van Morrison, to name a few. Fredrick wrote more than 100 songs in the two years after he moved to Music City.
“I was lucky enough to be surrounded by people who were willing to grow together,” Fredrick says of the writing process. “It’s a culmination of the best I could give with a bunch of people who are now my best friends.”
The first single from Different Shade of Blue is "Paducah," a love letter of sorts to the process of finding yourself through miles spent on the highway. "I traveled back home to Springfield, Missouri, every other weekend during my first few years of living in Nashville, partly for a relationship, and partly from being truly homesick,” Fredrick says. “Paducah, Kentucky was the halfway point and during those long drives, I had the feeling I was leaving something but also heading to something from both directions. Home changed in meaning for me, and I changed a lot as a person, eventually into someone who felt like Nashville was finally home."
“Be the One” offers a Randy Newman-esque look at mutually beneficial relationships that—well, aren’t exactly relationships.
The album’s title track, “Different Shade of Blue,” reminisces on how the grass isn’t quite always greener on the other side. “All Over You Again” offers a bit of wordplay: sometimes you want to be over someone but keep finding yourself all over them again.
“The Dreamer,” an ode of sorts to the songwriting of Kris Kristofferson and Guy Clark, centers around a young man and the unattainable object of his affection.
“Love Someone” offers the idea that every relationship offers something—sometimes a difficult lesson. “A lot of times learning to love someone else is more beneficial than receiving the love that you want at that moment,” Nate says.
“Caroline” is about that girl with a special aura about her, at once approachable and intimidating. “Forget Ever Loving Me” was inspired by unrequited love, or at least a joke about love.
“My sister came home from a date that did not go well,” Nate says. “Clearly a one-sided notion, he continued to text her throughout the night. Later she laughed and said, ‘I wish he would just forget ever loving me.’”
Written in March 2020, “To the Night” contemplates the difficulty of seeing the bright side sometimes, especially when there’s an unknown element. “It’s an anthem to convince yourself that things will ultimately work out how they’re supposed to,” Nate says. “There’s no sense in worrying about things you can’t control.”
“Long Overdue” contemplates how good things come to those who wait.
The affecting “Patches” bookends the album with a look at the lifecycle of people, things, circumstances, and everything between, told through three separate vignettes: an old pair of jeans, a hand-me-down car, and a long relationship coming to an end.
Different Shade of Blue may be Fredrick’s introduction, but if these 11 songs and the energy they hold are any indication—there’s plenty more to come.