Can it really be pushing four years since Immigrant Son came out? That first full album from Drew Nelson is still in my top five of the last decade and, glory be, ‘Beulah Land’ is at least as good and establishes Drew as a Michigan Guy Clark for his generation. Teaming up with Michael Crittenden again as producer, engineer and multi-instrumentalist this collection of songs expands the sound a bit and frequently has a greater sense of urgency about it – as it should, I guess, given that these are mostly protest songs. Drew’s protest is at the pace of change in our world that leaves people lost and confused, and at the relentless march of corporate capitalism that leaves no space for the quietly satisfying lives led by the old farming families of his native state. Time and again, his songs deal with the hard times of ordinary folk – to the point where you might think there’s no such thing as good times in these folk’s lives – but he does in fact balance this downbeat view of the world with a deeply felt appreciation of the simple joys of life.
Scegli tra una grande selezione di Maglie da Calcio Ufficiali di varie marche
Nowhere is this better shown than in ‘Grandmother Moon’, a radio-friendly song of sublime beauty; the guitar style is very much late 60’s folk-pop style along the lines of ‘Everybody’s Talkin’ At Me’ with a soft urgency to it whilst the vocal, to my mind, is somehere between Van Morrison and John Martyn, circa 1970. Actually Drew’s voice has got a little huskier since Immigrant Son and sounds even better for it. Innately warm and intimate in his singing, he sounds completely unforced and now even more confident in his ability to do just what he wants with his voice. On ‘Hello’, he seems to have all the time in the world and comes close to speaking, even whispering, the lines. On ‘Molly’s Home’ he sings from his belly, it seems, and produces a rich sound that is all too rare in popular music.
There’s a cracking band of supporting players on ‘Beulah Land’, every one of them sympathetic to the songs, broadening the aural landscape almost imperceptibly, never coming close to ego-tripping. I am, however, a particular fan of well-used pedal steel playing and Captain Midnight (aka Drew Howard) is absolutely impeccable here – nowhere more so than on the opening track ‘Highway 2’ which is a wonderful mini epic of a song building a complete picture of the world according to Drew Nelson, from the personal to the state of the nation, around a little road trip down Highway 2.
With any luck, ‘Grandmother Moon’ is possibly the song and ‘Dusty Road to Beulah Land’ is quite possibly the album that will bring Drew Nelson the really widespread acclaim he deserves. He makes me glad to be alive and in posession of a cd player and a pair of ears.