David Nail has consistently been one of the more unique artists in country music. All of his releases have had a lot of soul and inspired stories. Songs like "Turning Home", "Red Light", "Let It Rain", and "The Sound of A Million Dreams" are some of the best country music has to offer. "Whatever She's Got" was a stark turn around from his normal fare, and I feared the bro-country trend may have caught David. But, I was wrong and I'm A Fire has more great stories, more soul, and more interesting arrangements than any of his previous albums.
"Whatever She's Got" is a pretty catchy tune, despite it being borderline cheesy with the lyrics. They are actually a lot better than most of its counterparts, so I don't hate it, but I will admit it made me slightly nervous that David would just chase the obsession with songs about girls these days. Turns out, it is just a fun song that actually fits well with the album and kicks it off in nice fashion. It works better in the album than it does on the radio to me for some reason, which is a plus. It leads right into the incredibly catchy "Broke My Heart". If this isn't the second single, I'll be shocked. It is instantly sing-alongable and has a really cool groove. It is one of those songs that just perfectly blends modern country with elements of traditional to make a song everyone will love. "Brand New Day" is another gem. Its an uplifting song about the end of a tough time. It sounds like it would fit in on a modern day Gary Allan album. The steel guitar work is understated, but fantastic and really brings this song together. "Kiss You Tonight" was co-written by American Idol winner David Cook, and features a cool melody and lyrics about longing for his love. It's another solid cut. "Counting Cars" is an interesting song, as it features uptempo guitar led music, with sad and longing lyrics. It is a little louder than previous David Nail songs, but it works in the context of this album.
"Burning Bed" sounds like classic David Nail, just a cool and easy listening song. It was co-written by Bob DiPiero with two of the hottest songwriters in Nashville: Shane McAnally and Brandy Clark. "The Secret" is one of the best songs on the album. It tells a really interesting and mysterious story in the setting of a funeral of an old friend. Give it a listen and appreciate the intricate story woven through the music. Story telling is a lost art in country music, but David Nail keeps it alive in this album, and all of his previous work to be honest. While "Burning Bed" and "The Secret" sound familiar to David Nail fans, "Easy Love", and "I'm a Fire" are more upbeat and happy than we are used to from David. There isn't anything wrong with that, not all songs have to be depressing. "I'm A Fire" specifically is about David's wife, so it is personal and meaningful to him. That's the key. Fun is good when its meaningful, and I can feel the emotion in these songs.
The guest stars on this album really add a lot. "When They're Gone (Lyle County)" features Little Big Town on harmony, and the whole song sounds like Little Big Town cut. The twangy acoustic sound is reminiscent of "Boondocks". David has one of the biggest male voices I've ever heard, and adding the huge sound of Little Big Town make the chorus of this song just pound into you, and that's a good thing. "Galveston" is a remake of the Jimmy Webb song that Glen Campbell made famous. Lee Ann Womack is one of the best female voices in country music, and she simply tears this song up. They sound great together, and the song is a great way to close the album. "Galveston" and really Glen Campbell in general is a perfect allusion to how David Nail fits in modern country. Like Glen in his time, David is more on the adult contemporary side of country music, using slicker production than his traditional counterparts. But the story and emotion are pure country. Glen is an all time great, and David could be too if he keeps up his current sound.
I'm A Fire is simply a very good album. David Nail is one of the best pure singers in country music. While a lot of male voices sound similar and lack a distinctive sound, David Nail has his own sound and his own voice. With this release, he proves he isn't scared to try new things, even slightly chase current trends, but still remain solidly in his wheelhouse. Love, loss, stories, and soul are all given equal time on this album. Wouldn't it be nice if more stars took this kind of effort to make a quality collection of songs? I'm A Fire is a hit and David Nail is doing things right. Highly recommended.
Standout Tacks: "Broke My Heart", "Brand New Day", "The Secret", "When They're Gone (Lyle County) (feat. Little Big Town)", "Galveston (feat. Lee Ann Womack)", "Kiss You Tonight"
"Whatever She's Got"
"Broke My Heart"
"Brand New Day"