Jay Nash makes music that is warm, soulful, energetic, intelligent, just a little bit country, just a little bit rock. It may not be the kind of music that pop 40 aficionados want to hear on the radio; but it is most certainly the kind of music anyone of sense and substance wants to hear wafting from the speakers of their convertible, while driving down the Pacific Coast Highway on a warm summer Sunday afternoon.
The kind of music that defies categorization but for the sake of this article let's call it alt-acoustic-folk-piano-rock, with hints of alt-country nostalgia, and swimming in acoustic melodies. His new release The Things You Think You Need — his seventh studio album — is the first album that Nash feels truly comfortable with; he says “…this is the first record I have ever put out that I am completely enthusiastic about. I meant every word and every note that's on it. ” He has every reason to be enthusiastic, the album is truly superb. It is also a clear reflection of the artist himself; down-to-earth, playful, witty and occasionally profound, grounded but sentimental, sensual but intelligent, romantic but only in passing.
The Things You Think You Need is definitely something you'll think you need after just one listen; and Jay Nash is doubtless an artist you will want to get better acquainted with. You wouldn't be alone in your adoration of Nash either. Last month just 48 hours after the release of the album on iTunes it reached number 22 on the iTunes Rock Chart. An even more impressive accomplishment as he is the only completely independent artist on the chart, dominated as it is by major label acts.
The album begins with the sweetly sentimental ballad “Sweet Talking Liar”. This could easily be confused for a two-step made for softly-shod cowboys, but the opening lyrics quickly dispel this idea. “You won't be the next Bob Dylan, you might not die at 27/ forsake your brothers, give up on your lovers/ to get the thing, the thing you need…” “Sweet Talking Liar” hints strongly at the whiskey soaked alt country of small bars in upstate New York, Nash's home stomping ground as it has it. Nash's deep, gravelly vocals will remind you of the sadness of Hank Williams, the sensuality of Marvin Gaye, and the tenderness of an adoring lover.
Next, the album's first single “Wayfarer”, is a track that is all subtle acoustic melodies and piano that seems mindful of jazz. Side-stepping the country sound, this track slides into soft blue-eyed soul or jazzy folk-rock. Here Nash's softly approach to vocals change gear in the powerfully sung chorus “Well I will wait for you, to know what you want from me/ We still got some time, I don't think I heard last call…” “Wayfarer” is a good mix of what Nash does well, strong, sensual vocals, and haunting melodies that seem to play with lyrics filled with the kind of pathos only true yearning can inspire.
The third track features Nash's friend, Top Ten selling artist Sara Bareilles. “Barcelona” opens with all the choral elegance that an organ can bring to a rock song. Luxurious lyrics and intense, amorous vocals add warm orange, red, and brown tints to this Mediterranean titled track. But don't look for Latin sounds here just more of Nash's own brand of breathless longing and near Americana sounds.
Other songs to listen for are “Keep on Talking” with its strong rock sensibilities, “Over You"'s straight-up folk ballad feel and “Forgive Me” which has jazz standard written all over it, perfect for any piano bar.
Nash's ability to cover almost any genre convincingly is the reason that The Things You Think You Need is so successful. Although each song feels different, all have a common sound that is definitely Nash, and that adds cohesion. Jay Nash is a talented and exciting new artist, who I am sure will contribute much more to come.