From bedtracks to bottle-warmers with Winnipeg favorites

It’s been three years since Nathan last worked their quiet prairie charms on captive audiences at the Calgary Folk Music Festival. In three days the Winnipeg four-piece went from virtual unknowns to festival favourites. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that an awful lot has happened in the three years since. They’ve released two more albums on Vancouver’s Nettwerk records acquired a different drummer Damon Mitchell received a Juno nomination and toured extensively all over North America. And on top of that impressive list of achievements parenthood. Shelly Marshall’s daughter Sophie is now a precocious two-year-old toddler and Keri and Devin Latimer are mom and dad to a one-year-old Hazel. “She’s a huge inspiration to me” says Latimer of Marshal who brought her baby on the road. “She’s so strong and she looked like she knew what she was doing the whole time.” Latimer herself was seven-and-a-half months pregnant during the recording of Key Principles Nathan’s latest release. Physically it might have been a little awkward but daughter Hazel’s infant spirit was definitely felt throughout the recording process. “My fingers were sort of sausage like” Latimer allows. “Some of my (guitar parts) had to be recorded chord by chord because I couldn’t get my fingers to bend fast enough. I was playing a bit sloppy and probably didn’t have as much wind in my lungs but I had really good spirits. (Hazel) was there with me the whole time. I already knew it was a girl and so I knew I had this presence with me at every moment. Even when I was alone I was never alone. I really liked that feeling I think I sang a lot of the songs for her.” To make things even more interesting Private Ear Studios was evicted halfway through the recording leaving Nathan and producer Howard Redecopp to find alternate arrangements. “We recorded in our house for the last half. We ended up making a studio here so we could do vocals at home and some of the overdubbing and all the trumpets and horns and everything actually.” she laughs. “It was interesting. The house was a little bit topsy-turvy.” Baby Hazel gave the Latimers just a few days to convert their home from a recording studio into a baby nursery. “Hazel was born the week after Howard left after we finished tracking so the timing was pretty good. I did have to cancel a gig though” Latimer admits. “Although Shelley played a show the day she got out of the hospital — two days after she had Sophie” she says with a mixture of astonishment and admiration. She quickly adds “iI you knew Shelley it’s not surprising.” Key Principles features all the Nathan hallmarks: soaring melodies angelic harmonies and the hand-quilted cover artwork first seen on Jimson Weed. As always there’s layer upon layer of musical and lyrical depth like a richly embroidered tapestry or a really sweet onion. Thematically it’s less morbid than Jimson Weed or Stranger not necessarily lighter but definitely less dark and even a tad nostalgic. “For sure I noticed that too” she says. “It’s never on purpose. I’m like you I look at them after like someone else has written the album and then I decipher what was going on. I learn a lot about myself.” Since the new album’s release Nathan have been touring more than ever before. Latimer seems to relish the duality of being both a doting mom and a folk-rock star as the girls and their babysitter have become part of the band’s entourage. “Sophie might have missed one weekend when we went to Vancouver but other than that they’ve both been on the road with us all the time. It’s good because you get to see them a lot. People are always amazed that we bring our kids and they praise us and say that we’re doing this brave thing. It’s different but it’s not that difficult.”