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Most Valuable Player

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Editors’ Notes

Nat Baldwin is one of many Brooklyn musicians to recently emerge from the insular hothouse of the resolutely avant-garde into the more commercial territory of skewed and adventurous, but nonetheless accessible, pop music. Baldwin plays the contra-bass as a melodic lead instrument, plucking, bowing, and otherwise abusing his instrument to create a surprisingly gentle yet forward thinking series of songs simultaneously reminiscent of Arthur Russell at his most reflective, and Morrissey at his most well mannered. On Most Valuable Player Baldwin revisits some of his most successful compositions enlisting a number of talented Brooklyn musicians, foremost among them David Longstreth of the Dirty Projectors, to lend added texture to his already lush sonic palette. Baldwin’s songs have the classical simplicity of soul ballads, yet the instrumental work on otherwise traditionally structured songs like the gentle waltz, “One, Two, Three,” is fearlessly unorthodox. Most Valuable Player is easily Nat Baldwin’s most rewarding and fully realized work, and is as exciting and innovative as the work of his more heralded collaborator David Longstreth.

Customer Reviews

A New Classic

I bought this record (and an awesome sweatshirt) months ago at a show, and have enjoyed it tremendously. I've never heard anything like it-- old or new. My only complaint with the record (and it's not really a complaint, more of a pipe-dream) is that "Mask I Wear" could stand to be a little... bluesier. That's trivial, though. Overall, MVP satisfies, excites and disturbs in all the right ways. You'd be dumb not to buy it.

Luscious Yet Beautifully Angular Pop Music

Here is a group of ten beautifully composed and perfectly recorded songs. From the resonant opening bass figure of “Lake Eerie” to the purposeful wildness at the end of “Look She Said,” Most Valuable Player is solid gold. Nat Baldwin has quietly developed a following over the last few years, playing shows across the country to discerning audiences along side artists such as Dirty Projectors, Deer Tick, and Vampire Weekend. This album, recorded by Chris Taylor of Grizzly Bear, captures the essence of Baldwin’s musical duality; he is, at once, both a consummate pop songwriter in the tradition of Jeff Buckley and Thom Yorke and a gifted and original free-jazz composer, influenced by the likes of Charlie Haden and Jimmy Garrison. These two sides find a fruitful melding on this album, with the driving pop of “Lake Eerie,” “Dome Branches,” and “De-Attached” nicely complimented by the pensive development of “Only to Find” and “Enter the Light Out.” Interlaced horns, guitars, and strings form a cohesive and expressive whole, providing the perfect sea for Baldwin’s buoyant vocals to float above. There is something almost holy in the intense, pointed tremulousness of those same vocals. Indeed the whole album is something of a religious experience, taking the listener through a diverse circuit of emotional density. I must add in closing that “Mask I Wear” is a masterpiece, building to a climax that nicely encapsulates the provocative energy evident throughout Most Valuable Player. Buy this album. I promise you won’t regret it.


Everything you'd expect from an ex-Dirty Projector, Longstrethy voice and traditional but fun instumentation. Production credits to ever serious Chris Taylor of Grizzly Bear. Very rounded album. Sharp but seems to caress ones ear ever so. Buy it. You will enjoy it.


Born: 1980 in Portsmouth, NH

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

Bassist Nat Baldwin began his musical career focusing on improvisation and extended technique playing. The beginnings of his music saw him running with the East Coast scene of improvisers that included a group of Wesleyan University improvisers who studied with Anthony Braxton, and he collaborated with artists like Lavender, Jessica Pavone, and pianist Dan St. Clair. As time went on, Baldwin kept a foot in the improvising community as he branched out to work with more pop and indie groups. Baldwin's...
Full Bio
Most Valuable Player, Nat Baldwin
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  • $9.90
  • Genres: Rock, Music
  • Released: 2007

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