As a little Southern girl I was raised in church, often squirming on hard, unforgiving pews and distractedly swinging my feet clad in black patent-leather shoes and lacy white socks, my head slung back and staring up at the bright jewels of the stained glass windows. But it was always the music – the soaring piano lilt and lifting choir voices – that rooted me in place and captured my attention, and this is why I immediately tuned into David Nail’s “Mississippi,” the first track on his debut album, I’m About to Come Alive.
Nail’s is an album cut with an undercurrent of longing and prickling reminders of everyday pleasures, with the pull of muddy water and reminiscence that is distinctly Southern. “Mississippi” is a yearning for home and the safety of one’s place in the world, a staple of country music emphasized by the bluesy gospel riffs that take me back to those long hours in church surrounded by family and friends, eating on blankets on the ground after Revival in the warm haze of sunshine and security.
The album’s first Top 40 hit, “Red Light,” turns that sense of sun-soaked security on its head with the notion that not all bad things happen at night or even when you think they will – as my mother has always said: “You want to see God laugh? Make your plans.”
“Red Light” captures the irony of life, how the tides suddenly turn in the middle of your journey, and those traveling their own paths will swirl around and beyond you, but they’re still traveling. And it’s best that you pick up anchor and move along with them.
Alive includes a duet with country firecracker Miranda Lambert and songs co-written by Rascal Flatts’ lead singer Gary LeVox and Kenny Chesney, and the polished experience of the songwriters is evident in the songs they co-penned, “Summer Job Days” and “Turning Home,” respectively.
But its Nail’s duet with Lambert in “Strangers on a Train” that is the beating heart of longing on this album, rife with the little thrills of everyday pleasures which we often let pass by like a blurred landscape as we travel through life. Nail, who co-wrote five songs on Alive, is a gifted lyricist, with resonating lines like “the cold makes snow out of the rain.”
With Alive, Nail invites us on a journey through the pleasures and ache of life, beginning with “Mississippi” and ending with “Missouri,” which just happens to be Nail’s birthplace. He left a small town for the bright lights of Nashville, just a boy with a dream, and with his debut album it looks like his journey to Music City might just be the beginning of an extended stay.
“I feel like regardless of where you grew up, city, small town, east coast, west coast or whatever, there’s something in this music that you can relate to,” Nail says on his website, www.davidnail.com. “They might not all be exactly the same, but everyone has those moments; the first time you left home, falling in love, losing love. That’s what moves me, what I can dig into.”
Dig into Alive and see where it takes you. For me, still a little Southern girl at heart, it’s worth the trip.
Kick off the trip with: “Mississippi,” “Red Light,” and “Strangers on a Train.”