David Nail - Fighter

HumpHead Records

Perhaps the most innovative and fearless act on today’s Nashville mainstream country music scene, David Nail mixes a gritty side with aching ballads on FIGHTER, his fourth and most personal and intimate album to date. A sprawling and impressively bold listen, it is a forward-thinking record, yet steeped in melody and huge hooks. I’ve absolutely loved his previous albums, but the way he's approached this one really does set it apart. Tackling real life situations, many from his own relationship issues with his wife Catherine, for whom the title song is dedicated, this whole album is a brave move and a total success. The underlying theme of disappointment is anything but as David and his co-writers keep their songs sunny and dark and familiar and honest. He could be sharing his disillusionment for the next generation, but with songs packed with sentiment to the inspiring and energetic, he has confidently fanned the flames of optimism borne out of doubt and depression with a powerful fighting spirit.

One of the best and most distinctive of today’s country vocalists, David Nail really is at his best on this absolute humdinger of an album ... one of those albums you can invest so much of your time into, because you know it’s going to pay you back by the bucket load. The whole album sounds cohesive and wise; his spectacular voice gleams on songs like opener Good At Tonight, a fast-flowing tune that gets a push from the vocal harmonies of Brothers Osborne and the rootsy twang of electric guitar, or the heartbreaking I Won’t Let You Go, in which he croons in his irresistible, hushed vocals with Vince Gill providing the spine-tingling harmonies on this emotional ballad. He opens up his inner soul on the title song, inspired by his long-running battle with depression and the way that his wife Catherine has handled it. He sings the warm melody in a soft, but determined voice as he puts his heart on the line in a brutally honest reflection on their relationship. They’ve never kept it a secret that not only has David battled depression, but the couple have also struggled to have children. Finally, in December 2015 they became proud parents of twins. It was life-changing, just how, comes shining through in Babies, a beautifully simplistic and immensely effective  song of gratitude.

He maintains this open honesty in his songs with the moving Old Man’s Symphony, that says more in a few minutes than any David Nail biography. It’s the perfect way to close the album, with a more subtle musical arrangement as he weaves lush and intimate sounds around his personal lyrics. David Nail is a romantic and a realist, a creator of spectral country-pop marked by his keening vocals, powerful and infectious, with a hint of darkness. This is the perfect antidote to Bro-country and the stereotypical images and situations that have dogged the country mainstream over the past few years. Yeah, this is adult country music, all about real life—the happy and the sad in equal doses—and I just love it!