Thursday, 6 March 2014

Album Review: I'M A FIRE

It's surprising David Nail isn't a bigger name in Nashville. I mean, I had hardly heard of the guy, but know his 2011 single Let It Rain (a number one on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart) quite well. And I'm a Fire is already his third full-length release.

The album doesn't feel as exclusively-country as some of the others I've reviewed lately. There are bits of folk and rock mixed in, creating a unique audio-mood.

Whatever She's Got charted all the way up to number two, and while the melody is catchy-but-forgettable, the lyrics are well-crafted. "Cause she got the blue-jeans painted on tight/That everybody wants on a Saturday night."

The full chorus of Burnin' Bed stands in stark contrast to the acoustic verses and does a good job of evoking emotion from the listener. "Here in your arms my heart can't get you out of my head." The lyrics match the melody, moving from disconnected, jarring phrases to complete, overflowing thoughts.

I was going to write When They're Gone sounds like something from Little Big Town...when I realized they actually do sing the backup vocals! Anyway, this song is a rootsy redneck-anthem about the good ol' days of being young. "Some things aren't meant to last forever/But it don't mean you forget 'em when they're gone." It's a clever twist that adds a lot of punch.

Kiss You Tonight is another example of how Nail's effortless singing-style can have a big impact. It's almost a list-song, as he takes us through everything he's been missing about this girl, then concludes: "Everything will be all right if I can kiss you tonight." He sounds desperate, which makes the listener feel along.

I think The Secret is supposed to be profound – there's a funeral, an unplanned baby, and another guy. But even after reading the lyrics, I can't figure out what the story is. Nail may have missed the mark here if other people are as confused as I am. It's all so vague!

Easy Love is a refreshing break from some of the deeper songs. Here Nail sings with more of a pop vibe than a country one – think Keith Urban without the heavy guitars. "Your long brown hair flying 'round to the beat/Just like we were 17."

The title track stands a good chance of being the next radio single, and I think the definitive percussion holds potential. I might be way off, but it seems a little reminiscent of Mumford & Sons.

Galveston is a historical-fiction masterpiece and a musical departure from the rest of the album. Of course, Lee Ann Womack's flawless vocals don't hurt, either.

Some final comments: The backup female vocals on I'm a Fire are simply outstanding, and they don't blend in like in most contemporary country albums. While Nail does risk losing the spotlight every now-and-then, they just sound beautiful together.

The only major downside is the simplicity of the intros. Many are empty and sound alike. All in all, though, a really strong album.

Country Luke's Rating: 7.5/10

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