In 2019, back from traveling the world for the I Am Begging You To Come To These Shows tour, Jerry Paper hung up his flowing dress and sandals, glided into the studio, and began giving material form to his new musical manifestation: Abracadabra.
Over thirteen songs, he serves up a blend of jazzy instrumentation with soft-rock stylings and some seriously catchy earworms, forging a style that hints at the avant-pop of Scott Walker, the sweet enchantment of Paul McCartney, and the cryptic, smooth grooves of Steely Dan.
Like all good stories, Abracadabra boasts unforgettable characters: someone with a victim complex (“Cholla”); an alien captive surveilled by a mysterious presence (“Puppeteer”), and a buff man whose life is thrown into shambles when he is caught smoking methamphetamine at his child’s birthday party (“Body Builder on the Shore”). Nathan’s interest in talk therapy led to “Spit It Out”, a song about the health-inducing qualities of improvised speech; “Memorial Highway” is about existence after death in other people’s memories, and “Apologist” and “All I Need” affirm the value — and occasional futility — of recognizing one’s wrongs. Building new realities out of words and sounds is no easy task, and on “Trash Can”, Nathan mourns the frustrations of the creative process.
Abracadabra is many things at once: arch and sincere, bizarre and all too real, funny and melancholic — the work of an artist living in a world when despair so often tips over into ridiculousness, sometimes the only thing left to do is laugh.
Nathan worked with longtime visual collaborator Steve Smith and avant-comedian Alan Resnick to create the album art, which depicts an alien outsider spotting someone he recognizes. Who could it be? Don’t worry. Sit back, relax, and let Abracadabra cast its spell.