It's not planning to rain
I swear it’s not only because I recently flew back from New York, but I just happened to discover a new American artist who started out there. You might say it’s not that shocking for US-based artists to make it in New York, or rather try making it, but it’s still hard to do so. As the song goes, if you can make it there…
And make it he did, insofar as the man has been making a career for himself, albeit in a very distinctive way. Discarding contemporary rock stylings altogether (not to mention these blends of pop, RnB and EDM that have come to saturate radio playlists), he instead chose the risky path of resolutely looking backwards, at a time when rock, blues and folk walked alongside each other. That was back in the 70’s, before the man was even born.
The man, by the way, is Israel Nash.
Like the name implies, he was born in Missouri (!) before making his way to New York as a young musician, recording a couple of albums there, then moving back to a more rural setting, this time in Texas. Because why not. And he’s been busy since, releasing 3 more albums and an EP. Not too shabby.
His first Texan album is arguably his masterpiece — to date, of course. Released in 2014, Rain plans (and its titular song) is a beautiful, if somewhat sad, ode to a world that seems frozen in time — forever. Distilling an image of picturesque Americana, his songs inspire a certain degree of nostalgia in the tone, style and production. His guitar playing, specifically, provides textbook, lightly saturated riffs that give plenty of room for his relatively subdued vocals to shine atop.
What is also a rather obvious nod to 70’s progressive rock is Nash’s clear delight in trying out more experimental melodic structures and production choices. What starts like a classical rock/folk track, “Rain plans”, slowly morphs into an almost choral, poetic although always contained mini-rock symphony. Thus clearly referring to classic works by the likes of Pink Floyd, or Emerson, Lake and Palmer, to name but a few legends.
I only discovered this track a few days ago, but that hasn’t stopped Israel Nash from releasing new material — obviously. His latest album, Lifted, released in 2018, prolongs his exploration of neo-progressive stylings. And subtly evolved he has.
“Spiritfalls” is a nice example of his evolution as an artist: the song maybe somewhat more straightforward than “Rain plans”, but what it lacks in experimental complexity, it gains in power and impact. Slowly but surely, Israel Nash keeps building his own musical legacy. And we’re all the better for it.