Israel Nash (Soundly)
“Thinking” may be the singular activity that defines Israel Nash as both a musician and a man. As his career has taken him from college in Missouri to New York City and, eventually his current home and studio in the hills of Texas, Nash has not only been creating music, but thinking about it too. Thinking about the nuts-and-bolts of creating, but also thinking about why he plies his craft. “Music can be the space where people think,” he says about the why. “It’s about creating something that prompts reflection in a moment – and those reflections have other chain reactions.”
The reaction to Nash’s most recent thoughts is the most stunning album of his career, Topaz, a record of 10 outstanding and engaging songs about coming together, being apart and politics, sometimes all in one song. The leadoff track, “Dividing Lines,” could just as easily be about a relationship as it could the social divisions in society, just as the first single, “Down In The Country,” could be addressing the physical isolation of living in rural America or the isolation of feeling ignored or minimized by the country’s politics. And it is Nash’s tendency to write not literally, but by creating imagery, that make his music so accessible.
Recorded mostly on his own in the studio on his Texas property at different times over a year, Nash was able to capture a spontaneity that may not have been achieved in more structured sessions. Having the studio right there “allowed me capture sounds and ideas, to really get stuff out of my head and into the world so quickly,” he says. It also allowed Nash to build on the rootsy, countrified Rock he’s been known for by bringing in musicians from neighboring Austin to fill things out with horns and Gospel choruses to add Soul and R&B edges to many of the tracks. The result is that Topaz is an album that is difficult to not just let track through multiple times each time you put it on.
That accessibility has already opened doors for Nash at stations as diverse as WFUV, WXPN, KEXP, WRLT, WYEP, KRSH, WAPS and Music Choice, and that’s only a sample of the stations spinning Topaz.