By Steve Graham
It should have been the happiest time of Nick Duarte’s life.
His personal life was happy, he had a good job at the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery, and his band, Post Paradise, was continuing its upward trajectory in the local music scene.
“I’m the most creative I have ever been, everything is coming up Milhouse, everything is going great on paper, but why do I feel like this?” said Duarte of his months-long spiral into depression. “It’s this strange existential crisis that leads to this chemical thing that leads to whatever it was. … I tanked. I crashed. I couldn’t figure out what life was for me anymore. What it was going to be and what I needed to do.”
He figured it out, went through some counseling, recovered from his depression, and finished the best and most cohesive album in Post Paradise’s decade-long career. “Lonely Worlds” is both a cathartic document of Duarte’s personal struggles and a touchstone for others struggling with mental health issues.
“We’ve all had those records that we just immediately relate to, whether it’s good or bad, there’s something comfortable about that familiarity of someone going through the same thing,” Duarte said.
Post Paradise cellist Amy Morgan agreed that the album could be therapeutic.
“You feel connected and not all alone,” she said.
She said she helped Duarte through his dark period, and realized depression is prevalent.
“We have talked to so many people over the last few years who have felt this in some way or another,” Morgan said.
Duarte has been playing music in bands since he was in high school, mainly in a supposed coastal paradise in Florida. After moving away from “paradise,” he decided to form a new band, with a cello alongside the traditional guitar, bass, and drums rock sound, and call it Post Paradise.
“It means different things to different people,” Duarte said.
Morgan had been playing cello since she was eight years old, but had hung up the bow before she heard about Duarte’s project. She decided to return to the instrument and has been the other constant in Post Paradise for ten years.
Rounding out the band are new drummer Ed Ziehm and bassist Brian Zeiger, who has been in the band for about five years. All the members collaborated on previous Post Paradise albums, but Duarte wrote “Lonely Worlds” mostly on piano.
“It was much more me in a room holed up and working on stuff,” Duarte said.
He said working on music was a vital outlet during his bout with depression.
“The one thing that felt safe was to go work on the record,” Duarte said. “That was the one constant throughout all of it.”
Morgan said the result is an honest and personal document for Duarte.
“It takes you through the journey of your arc of feeling weird and not really understanding what’s going on, and trying to sort through that,” Morgan said to Duarte. “And this idea of ‘what life do I want?’ It’s this cool progression, and you feel the story.”
It also gave the album thematic consistency.
“It’s not exactly a concept album, but it’s the closest we have come for sure,” Duarte said.
On the other hand, it’s not a set full of grim dirges.
“It’s not a depressed album. It’s not sad and tragic sounding,” Morgan said. “There are moments of that, but overall it has an uplifting, hopeful vibe to it.”
Post Paradise CD release party with Floor Models, Holdfast on 7 PM at Hodi’s Half Note.