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David Nail

The Fighter – 2016 (MCA Nashville)

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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CDs by David Nail

A singer's believability is essential to the success of any album, and David Nail has a way of persuading us that every word he sings on his "Fighter" comes straight from the heart. And it doesn't hurt that the songwriting contained within is topnotch throughout.

Two songs, in particular, go straight to the heart in addition to being heartfelt. "Home," which Lori McKenna both sings on and co-wrote, is the first song on this record that will absolutely stop you in your tracks. Built upon a stately acoustic guitar backing, after a lovely piano intro, the song's lyric beautifully personifies one's hometown in its chorus. "And you think it will forget you when you go/But you know it will take you back in." Sometimes, the place where you come from becomes as close as a blood relative, or as the lyric states it, is like "your oldest friend." With its keen insight, this song will remind you of Eric Church at his best.

"Babies," which describes how Nail became "a better kind of crazy" after having children, is the other song that touches all the right nerve endings. "Good things come to those who wait," he tells us in the chorus, "I used to think that's just something people say." Knowing Nail is actually a recent new father (twins in December 2015), only gives this song's personal lyrics all the more emotional weight.

Nail closes with "Old Man's Symphony," which doubles as a both a brief career overview, and also an ode to his father. Sung over finger picked guitar, before incorporating unobtrusive strings, the song eventually builds into a kind of folk-country symphony, if you will. It's a sweet, humble and sincere way to close an album.

The only misstep on "Fighter" is "Night's On Fire," which has one of those loud choruses that sounds more like a big Taylor Swift pop production number and jarringly contrasts with the (mostly) low key and overall uncomplicated production approach. It comes off as momentary compromise, on an otherwise uncompromising project.

Nail is not a name that usually gets mentioned (along with Christ Stapleton, Sturgill Simpson) when potential saviors of modern country music get mentioned, but "Fighter" is an album that proves this man now needs to be a part of that conversation.