Over the mountain, there’s a city – where love reigns and darkness falls in line. So begins Nathan Harrington’s amazing new single, Over the Mountain, transforming from an initially minimalistic strumming of a guitar into an ambient, surprisingly soulful medley whose strengths are best complimented as a collective whole. While the song uses metaphors and euphemisms that are timeless, there’s something about its emotional purity – coupled with Harrington’s soft, evocative voice – that makes it a rare gem in a musical stratosphere typically dominated by lyrics about wealth, sex, flash, and various forms of climbing the social ladder.
The transparency in Harrington’s process is likely due to his personal convictions, not just his professional ones. He has been quoted as saying, “The music I make is meant to heal people. Reggae holds a high vibration, and I believe it can pull people away from the darkness.” On the specificity of Over the Mountain, Harrington has been quoted as saying, “(It) is about learning to navigate the obstacles day to day. When our heads are clear and focused, we can obtain a good way of living.”
Observing Harrington’s process and ideology brings to mind fellow artists who specialize in world and alternative genres, some of the most recognizable being Jewish rapper Matisyahu, Palestinian-American rapper DJ Khaled, and Caribbean-American R&B artist Conkarah. Popular music rarely celebrates positive, traditional, and family values. Concepts such as emotional purity, generosity of spirit, and healing rarely make for good lyrical storytelling in stereotypical composition. The craft in the music by artists like Harrington entails communicating such messages through a medium effectively following pop culture guidelines.
Reggae has always proved itself to have a timeless audience, and modern-day artists experimenting within the genre have found success by marrying elements of pop and pop Latino into otherwise standard, reggae-styled composition. With a slight beat, some solid keyboard work, and an electric guitar, Harrington crafts a piece of music that hits every box on the pop culture checklist while infusing lyrics that are refreshingly devoid of some recent superficial pop artists. The songwriting prose is simple but effective, avoiding outright preachiness while remaining straight talking and to-the-point.
Highlights include personal lyrics such as Walk the righteous path, no hesitation. And you’ll find the truth to your salvation to I never forget to love each day, love to all give love to all and we shall conquer pain. Euphemisms like the evocative grain of our broken ways interpretively highlight strengths and struggles in a concise articulation, making the music as viscerally true as it is stimulating.
All in all, Nathan Harrington has a bright future ahead if he stays within the groove and standards he’s set as an artist. His winning card is the purity thematically of his music, juxtaposed with hip, too-cool-for-school tempos, beats, and musical presentation. In an era when sardonicism is threatening to overwhelm the cultural currency, songs like Over the Mountain are a welcome addition and a welcome reminder.
Alexander Marais, posted by Garth Thomas