As he closed up his studio before Christmas in December, singer-songwriter Jay Nash began to reflect on the inconceivable nature of 2020. As a father, much of the year was spent distracting his children from the. devastation, seeking entertainment from the previously mundane. In an attempt to contextualize the unprecedented experience in a way they could understand, Nash penned his upcoming single, “Strange Illusion.”
Due Friday, May 28, Nash’s new song is his personal experience during a troubling time that resonates universally with parents everywhere.
“2020 was a lot of things for a lot of people,” he says. “For me, a good deal of my mental and emotional energy went into figuring out how to frame what was going on in the world and our own personal experiences in a positive way that did not scare the shit out of my kids.”
During the song’s inception, Nash and his family had made peace or at least adjusted to the new normal of socially distanced pandemic life. He explains, “It was a moment of reflection, thinking on the way we, as humans process fear and anxiety. It’s easy to lose sight of everything that is beautiful and good when these emotions take hold,” Nash adds.
When the lights are off / And you think you saw / A monster in the corner of the room / I promise you, this I swear / That monster wasn’t ever there / Someday you’ll look back on this and laugh, he sings through the second verse.
The lyrics serve as a summation of what he tries to convey to his children when they are “freaking out about something that I can see through the lens of having been through it. I want to impart to them that is not worth freaking out about.”
“Strange Illusion” is one of four songs from his forthcoming EP Night Songs. The EP, he says, is the first of two he penned during the pandemic. He describes the project as “a collection of lullabies (of sorts) for my kids.”
The genesis of Night Songs came in the hospital just after the birth of my first child nearly a decade ago. They songs remind in a raw, simple form until 2020.
“One of the silver linings that I found in 2020 was not only having the time and space to finish these ideas and add to them, but also to find myself in a set of circumstances that seemed to make finishing them an absolute imperative,” he says. “In the end, I guess that these four songs are as much a message of calm reassurance to myself as they are to my kids.”
Born and raised outside of Syracuse, New York, he was raised on the music of the Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan, Cat Stevens, Sam Cooke, and jazz artists like Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, John Coltrane. Nash has been making music for 23 years, and doesn’t feel his sound reflects those influences.
Nash once heard Jim Lauderdale describe “Americana” as a “catch-all basin at the record store between rock, folk, and country bins.” This resonated with him artistically. He admits, “I’m just trying to write good songs and avoid repeating myself.”
“Strange Illusion” is a step forward in Nash’s next chapter as an enduring artist. Produced by Bill Lefler, the ethereal track features virtuoso cellist Dave Eggar. His strings add levity to Amber Rubarth’s vocal contribution to Nash’s thougthfully crafted harmonies.
“As parents, I think that our greatest priority in life is not just the health and safety of our kids, but their emotional well-being,” Nash concludes about the song. “I work hard raising mine to stay curious and joyful, without being completely naive or oblivious to the uncertainties and dangers of life and our world.”
Pre-save Jay Nash’s new single, “Strange Illusion,” here and listen below.