Are you waiting for Neil Young to release another classic Neil Young record? An album full of messages, political angst and singing guitars? Disappointed with the guy who quite frankly just released an album that was unlistenable all the while promising a brand new music system that will transcend the sonic gap of condensed MP3 files while offering the modern day portability of an iPod?
Well have I got an album for you. If the previous paragraph made any sense at all to you and you ache for an album that transports you to those aural places like North Ontario then you need to run out and pick up “Israel Nash’s Rain Plans.” Israel Nash Gripka is a Missouri born artist who, like Young, has found a home south of his birth place. Just as Young fled his native Canada for California where he helped invent a sound defined by and for that place, Nash too has traveled from his Midwestern roots to Dripping Springs, Texas- where he has found a home, a heart and a sound with a certain felling that conjures up the best of Young’s early releases. However, that home of Nash’s hasn’t yet embraced him.
They say one is never a prophet in their hometown and such may be the case with Nash. He has achieved critical acclaim in England and other ports overseas where Nash has been selling out concerts for the last few years. His third album was released in America just this week -a full year after it’s international debut in 2013.
So how good is this album? Well it lacks the political punch of some of Young’s classics like “Ohio” however, I can see these songs turning into epic jams on stage and yet remain pleasing enough for Sunday morning listens. What Young seemed to bring to his music was a sense of place and that’s where Nash scores his highest marks of similarity. Recorded (as Young might) entirely on analog equipment in Nash’s home in the Hill Country of Texas, the album’s songs roll along like a car passing through this Texas land. There are admonitions to his land like the second track “Though The Door” where Nash implores his lover to “follow me to the Hill Country,” and we are hooked on the journey with him and his tight band mates who do more than just come along for the ride.
Even Neil Young needed a support crew and Nash’s version of Crazy Horse consists of guitarist Joey McClellan, bassist Aaron McClellan, drummer Josh Fleischmann and Eric Swanson on pedal steel and they deliver a fusion of country rock and soaring guitar jams under an understated emotive vocal from Nash. It’s a real old fashion album.
I could lament on every track and share the deep groove of this album’s reach into progressive southern soul and conjure up adjectives like “dreamy melancholy sound” that other critics have used to describe this album, but I’d rather just tell you to pick it up today. When I first started this music column I anticipated writing album reviews over and over, but then something changed. Artists stopped making complete albums. Sure there has been great songs released over the last few years but few comprehensive works that can stand up song after song. Nash has done that and it’s a record of special merit. If you are reluctant to invest in an entire album (and who could blame you) download “Rain Plans” first and then thank me later.