Another high-class offering from the talented Mr Nash.
There is a feature running on this esteemed website “More People Really Should Know About” that allows writers at AUK to shine a spotlight on artists whose work is deemed worthy of a wider audience. Does Israel Nash fall into this category? Nash’s previous two albums ‘Topaz’ and ‘Lifted’ have both garnered rave reviews here but in a genre where chart success is an unreliable measure of an artist’s worth it is difficult to gauge just how widely known or respected Nash has become outside of these environs.
What can be assuredly stated though is that Nash’s latest offering ‘Ozarker’ sees him maintain that high bar. For those in the know, those familiar with those past highlights, there are no surprises here, just more of what Nash does best. Drawing on Petty, Seger and Springsteen there are cinematic lyrics, driving rhythms, anthemic melodies and rousing choruses, a veritable wall of sound.
‘Ozarker’, a reference to the Ozarks region in his native Missouri, sees Nash returning to his roots for musical inspiration with some of the characters coming either directly from his own family history or from second-hand accounts handed down. The title track is a case in point, referencing as it does his migrant grandfather’s promise to return to marry a local girl. The song also serves up a reminder, if one were necessary, of Nash’s ability to weave a narrative, a snapshot in time, into a rollicking piece of music. The mid-tempo piano-driven intro building into something much bigger and brasher encapsulates everything that a great Nash song is all about.
‘Ozarker’ is packed full of memorable tracks and ear-worming riffs. ‘Going Back’ sees Nash in full-on Springsteen mode including, as if to emphasise the influence, a belting piano accompaniment ala E Street’s Roy Bittan. The great guitar work throughout is a given, not just as part of that wall of sound but also as a number of solos, never better than on the excellent album finale ‘Shadowlands’. That final track might just be the pick of a very good bunch and that final high is such that when the last guitar note fades away the listener feels bereft at the album’s passing.
So, the question of whether Israel Nash gets the recognition he deserves still hangs out there but all we fortunate ones can do is continue to celebrate the consistent highs the man gives those of us in the know. Spread the word, Israel Nash has produced another beauty.