The Patience Fader is a collection of solo guitar instrumentals, with the addition of lap steel and harmonica. Mark Nelson has spoken in the past of his notion of ‘lighthouse music’, which he describes as ‘a radiance cast from a stable vantage point, sending a signal to help others through rocks and dangerous currents’. Intentional or not, The Patience Fader is a kind of therapy, and a much-needed exhalation in a breathless world.
The anchored bass notes lie in sweet contrast to its selection of cleaner, thinner melodies, which slide and stroll into other areas, exploring their surroundings and sometimes going off course to take in a new view. The music provides enough light for listeners to find their way back – the lighthouse beacon – and return home at day’s end. An ethereal beauty casts a dull glow over the music as its evening light fades away. As underlying chords pass from major to minor, a subtle regression is in motion, and its still-warm sunset is bathed over bittersweet melodic lines and sedated, dampened rhythms. Those cleaner melodies never seem to age, even as the sun is in motion and on the brink of departing.
Composed over the summer of 2020, when Coronavirus had the world in its grim grip, these pieces became meditations on ‘roots and mourning’. Its distinctly American flavour breathes out a dry, boneless dust, an atmosphere which has been dislocated but still aims for spiritual highs, and an eerie feeling is left to hang in the air. It can never replace what it has lost, reaffirmed by the approaching twilight and its deepening shade of impending loss.