David Nail is a rare mainstream country artist who actually stands out from the rest of Music Row's regulars. Instead of leaning towards one of the two dominant styles of Nashville country, pop or rock, Nail blends country with soul and R&B.
When he builds upon his strengths, the songs shine. The single misstep, Grandpa's Farm, sounds like a blend of recent Kid Rock and Dusty Springfield's Son of a Preacher Man; which is as awkward as the comparison sounds. The album excels when Nail uses his soulful voice to add emotion to slick ballads, like the somber Desiree or the beautiful title track. For the most part, the album moves between slow songs and mid-tempo ballads, which work well with his voice. Further distancing his music from the country crowd, Nail favors the piano over guitar, which serves as the framework for his emotional lyrics.
While his voice and music is noticeably different from the majority of current male country artists, the biggest distinction is in his lyrics. Instead of rambling on about getting drunk with his buddies or singing misogynistic lyrics about country girls shaking their asses, Nail writes mature lyrics that show a depth that is all too absent on country radio these days.
Instead of releasing a collection of singles in pursuit of mainstream success, Nail has stayed true to himself on his sophomore release. The songs work best when listened to as part of a whole album. The lack of radio friendly pop hits means that the album slowly grows with each listen. The first time around it seems almost forgettable, but after multiple listens it grows into something exceptional. His smooth voice and strong songs are refreshing after a season full of mediocre chart toppers. As winter signals the approach of another year, David Nail has released one of the best country albums of 2011.