Shaking Through‘s February instalment catches us up with Oregon based multi-instrumentalist Nick Principe, the face behind Port St. Willow. A collaborative project between Weathervane Music and the University of Pennsylvania radio station, WXPN– Shaking Through documents a day’s recording with break through artists, aiming to propel young careers to new heights. Last Autumn they brought us Reading Rainbow and Twin Sister, who have both subsequently gone on to affirm their hype; cementing slots amongst the elite.
Enlisting old friend Peter Silberman as producer makes perfect sense for Port St. Willow, a link between Principe’s style and that of Silberman’s band The Antlers is plaintively evident- A break in the 10 minute saga Wasteland from Port St. Willow’s self released Even // Wasteland EP sounds all but identical to the lulling refrain in Hospice‘s ‘Shiva’. This partnership appears a shrewd union judging by ‘Stay Even’, a defined and textured piece. Piano falls under verse, capturing key and tone with great delicacy as Principe’s elusive falsetto yearns of contained passion. Just before the simple bass drops, a swelling line fades in and out of the background, building Boards Of Canada Esc atmosphere and texturally enhancing where the tapped drums beat fails to do so. The unsettling structure and guitar riff screams anxiety; the dialled back bridge awash with restraint. As the track builds toward its final sonic peak, the verse’s shimmering line is mixed back in, this time delving to the foreground, transporting ‘Stay Even’ to a tangible point of conclusion.
For Port St. Willow, recording with Shaking Through marks an opportunity that would have been foolish not to seize. Around this time last year, Sharon Van Etten stepped into the Shaking Through studio to record a 5 minute video, her story since then has been one of only success- supporting The National and earning significant backing. A year later, Nick Principe occupies the same position and it seems as though with the talent, friends and support in place- there should be little to stop Port St. Willow.