Newcomer David Nail cites the Beatles, Elton John and Motown as key musical influences. While his long-time-coming debut certainly leans toward pop and soul rather than traditional country, vocally the southeast Missouri native is far more Kenny Chesney with a bit of Marc Cohn and Hal Ketchum than Stevie Wonder.
It's an impressive debut for the strikingly handsome Nail, whose country career has had numerous fits and starts since arriving in Nashville a decade ago. Frank Liddell's production occasionally overpowers Nail's vocals, yet he pours his passion into each song.
Nail squeezes each word for all they're worth on Sean McConnell's offbeat Lookin' for a Good Time and adds a soulful touch to the Chesney-Scooter Carusoe-penned Turning Home. Nail also wrote or co-wrote 5 of the 11 cuts, including the autobiographical Again and the moody, acoustic closer Missouri.
Just south of the Show-Me State-and back to the album's opening track - Mississippi finds former Allman Brothers and Sea Level keyboardist Chuck Leavell laying down some down-home gospel licks on the song he co-wrote behind Nail's wistful, convincing vocals.
Most impressive though is how seasoned Nail sounds from start to end. It's his debut album, but with such confidence behind the mike as well as with his pen, this has the feel of a veteran finding his groove on the third or fourth record.