Review: Israel Nash Takes Flight on ‘Ozarker’

(Soundly Music)
4 out of 5 stars

Videos by American Songwriter

The adjective “cinematic” often appears when describing the music of singer/songwriter Israel Nash. His sound reflects the vision of a movie director, bringing splashes of audible color, lighting, and drama to albums whose selections contribute to a greater whole. That was especially the case with the shimmering, psychedelically tinted Topaz (2022) and it continues on this darker follow-up. 

The Missouri-born and bred auteur long ago relocated to Texas, where he built a studio. But to construct these songs, he shifted operations to a nearby town, where he crafted their bones with just a guitar, an old Casio keyboard, and a four-track tape machine. As the disc’s title implies, he strove to create faithful stories infused with the hopes and aspirations of dwellers from his home state. He invited other talented musicians to record parts in a 10-day marathon at his home studio, traveling to producer Kevin Ratterman’s L.A. workshop for additional overdubs. 


Advance notes emphasize that the tracks were inspired by the ’70s heartland rock of Petty, Seger, and Springsteen. But that’s painting with too broad a brush. Nash has successfully worked with booming choruses, driving keyboards, and gobs of echo before, so these stories of struggling, often unfulfilled small-town folks with big-time dreams are sonically similar to what we have come to expect.  

From the throbbing bass and synth opening, “Can’t Stop” builds and gradually explodes (Oh I need to get away / Leave these troubles behind / Oh I’ll take the very first empty road I find / Not looking back and never thinking twice, sings the discouraged narrator), to the somber but vivid closing “Shadowland” (I’m living in a circle drawn for me long ago / The more they keep me digging, deeper are the holes), Nash embodies his songs, musically and vocally, with the pent up frustration those lyrics imply.

The melodies take flight, soaring as guitars strum, and drums pound, and Nash unleashes ten widescreen tales resounding with melancholy intensity and an idiosyncratic style best described as uncompromising.      

Courtesy Clarion call PR

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