Seattle – “I love to make albums,” says Israel Nash.
In a recent interview with Best New Bands, the singer-songwriter revealed his underlying goal of creating a “listening album” – something people can put on “and just be in another place for a little bit.”
And with Silver Season, his fourth full-length release which comes out October 9 via Loose Music/Thirty Tigers, he achieves just that. Nash, along with Joey McClellan (guitar), Aaron McClellan (bass), Eric Swanson (pedal steel), and Josh Fleischmann (drums), has crafted an immersive nine-song record filled with a mature, cohesive sound that is at once expansive and cinematic, yet intimate and introspective. Expertly mixed by engineer Ted Young (Kurt Vile, Sonic Youth), Silver Season is a gorgeous album that can be considered an aural reflection of its recording environment – Nash’s 15-acre stretch of land in Dripping Springs, Texas.
The record opens with “Willow,” a lush, swirling track laden with heart-tugging pedal steel, which perfectly enhances the lyrics “I’m leaving home/ Watch me go” – a message to his daughter, the song’s namesake. It’s an apt beginning to an album whose songs touch on family and home, traveling and the passage of time, nature and the nature of man. In the following acid-rock meets Western country “Parlour Song,” Nash sings, “Out of the window and into the night/ Sun keeps on falling, there goes the light,” amidst washed out guitar, before crescendoing into a rousing growl, “I’m so tired of the people.” It’s not until the closing line, “Sooner or later we’ll surrender our guns/ But not until we’ve shot everyone,” that the true power of the song’s lyrics matches its instrumentation.
The nicely textured “The First & The Flood” highlights what the band does well – distorted guitar, expanding pedal steel, and layered harmonies – to create a song that builds on itself without trying too hard. Transitioning into “LA Lately,” the album enters its cinematic stretch, taking the listener on a sonic journey across the Southwestern expanse of the country – much like Nash, who wrote this on the road after leaving the city after his first headline tour. There’s a sound, a feeling on this track the band has effortlessly created that’s so wrenchingly elusive – it could be loneliness, it could be heartbreak – it seems to shift with each listening. There’s also an understated dark glamour, carried along by distorted guitar, which easily alludes to LA itself. Instrumentally, the song utilizes dynamics expertly, as distorted guitar builds into a brief jam, then cutting to stark vocals before taking flight again. This is the song – on an album filled with strong songs – that could easily stand alone – that just does everything right; it’s where Nash truly finds his voice.
As “LA Lately” fades like the sunset over the Strip, Silver Season seamlessly transitions into “Lavendula,” a celebration of the changing of seasons, beautifully captured by an easy-to-miss orchestral layer. It may be the most Neil Young-sounding track, especially with the CSN harmonies from the rest of the band. The nearly seven-minute-long jam that is “Strangers” is a transporting, lie-back-and-just-listen experience that blends elements of country, folk, and heavy acid-rock.
The album moves into its last third with the beautiful “A Coat of Many Colors” and the bright “Mariner’s Ode,” before closing with the absolutely stirring “The Rag & Bone Man.” Nash, who grew up with a pastor father, captures a sense of spiritualism in his music, and on no song is that more apparent than this, the final act. The gospel-like chorus closes the album with the message, “We should love one another” – a rousing call-to-arms that the listener cannot help but sing along to, particularly after the spiritual journey that is Israel Nash’s Silver Season.
For more on Israel Nash, visit his facebook page.
Photo by Caitlin Peterkin
With degrees in journalism and music, Caitlin’s written for Paste Magazine, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and MajoringinMusic.com. She loves cheese, laughing at GIFs of corgis, road trip sing-alongs, and connecting with people over good beer and good music.