Friday, June 20, 2008

Reviews:: Nels Andrews Off Track Betting

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Earlier this year, I fell in love with the simple, swooning sounds of Tyler Ramsey. His voice was strong and comforting and his songs uplifting. Well, after hearing the new Nels Andrews record - Off Track Betting - I was hit with the same emotions.

From the opening moments of the beautiful Fevered Dreams, the record moves like a New Mexico breeze; forcing a slight warmth over your body, making you want to stop and take in everything that surrounds you. In Andrews' case, that breeze is created by layers of twinkling piano (Butterfly Wing), acoustic, steel, cymbal washes (the simple sound fits perfectly into Lady Of The Silver Spoon) and even a wine glass orchestra.

But as beautiful as this record sounds, you can't overlook how engaging a story teller Nels is. He's able to draw you in to his tales with simple, seemingly insignificant details and unlike so many song writers, he doesn't waste lines waiting to turn a phrase (although he can deliver some terrific lyrics - "I'm sober, but all my memories are lies."). His stories are more honest; more simple than the fictional accounts that litter coffee shops and open mics and as a result, much more appealing.

It's almost said as a passing thought when he mentions he's "riding shotgun in my brother's car" over top of mandolin, plucky bass and strings on Rented White Sedan, but instantly you feel like you are in the backseat watching the two of them drive silently along the dirt roads. You can see the faces and hear the gossip of the people in too small town on Shoot Out the Stars, and you start to feel the chains of the ever enclosing walls, and start urging yourself to leave it all behind.

It's actually hard to tell which side of the coin is Andrews' biggest strength. His diction and delivery draws you in, but never steals the spotlight from the beautiful instrumentation that seems to ebb and flow perfectly with every emotion he presents. By the time I finished the all too short final track (Dollar and the Dream) and soaked in the beautiful Emmylou Harris styled harmonies, I was left wondering why everyone isn't talking about this record.

It's easily one of the nicest Americana records I've heard yet this year, and that's said without any type of hype or hope. This is a record that I'd be happy to recommend to anyone willing to take the time to listen and happy to find anyone else who agrees.

Posted at 1:39 PM by ack :: 0 comments

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