Reviewed by Harry Kaplan
This came out in January so I am a little late. But this album is so good that it needs to be heard. This is true classic country both in musical stylings as well as the song topics. This is true tear in your beer country. With song titles like Bar Fight, Bullies Win Again, Frail Shadow, End Of The World, etc., you know this is going to be a multi tissue listen. Maybe I like tragic stories or maybe misery loves company, I don’t know. What I do know is this, I Want To Believe is absolutely irresistible.
Let’s begin at the beginning with the classic in the making, Bar Fight (Track 1). It isn’t what you might think by the title. The bar fight is Nathan fighting himself and his demons. Let’s overlook the musicianship for a moment, which is absolute perfection. I want to focus on the lyrics. This is definitely one of those tissue moments:
I lay in bed, nurse my aching head,
I earned in a bar fight,
I lose to my demons most every night,
Talking to spirits,
That tell me to have some more wine.
It really doesn’t get any better than this. Talk about man versus himself. I stated I would get back to the musicianship and I am a man of my word. The instrumentation is blissful. Nathan and the band know how to evoke every bit of emotion in their playing. They know there way around a sad country song pretty good. This is not uncharted territory.
The sadness continues. Take the next classic in the making, Frail Shadow (Track 4). When the song first began, I thought it was a cover of Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere because that iconic intro also graces Frail Shadow. This is song is superbly written and played. And Nathan’s singing is absolutely soulful and oh so real. I can’t say enough good things about this number. You really have to listen for yourselves to truly appreciate the greatness.
Just when you start to reach for that third tissue, Nathan lightens up the mood with the rocker Roswell (Track 7). The guitar is Chuck Berry style rockabilly and it is the perfect call. I am still completely impressed by the strong lyrical content on the album in general and especially on this song. This is a road song and makes me feel like taking the car out for an eight hour spin and listen to this song on repeat. Not the whole way. I do need variety.
Speaking of variety, this is the type of diversity that a good record collection needs. And you just can’t have too much classic style country in a collection. I Want To Believe is destined to become a cornerstone album for any real country music fan. Certainly one of my best for 2018. Nathan really topped his other great albums and created his best work to date.