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David Nail in the Palm Beach Post
Newcomer David Nail to take stage at Chili Cook-Off
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Monday, April 20, 2009
Newcomer David Nail admits to having an obsessive streak but so far it's been a big help in his career. His dogged pursuit of a country music career has taken him so many places, he says, to cities he would never have seen if he'd stayed in Kennett, Missouri, population 10,000.
His career brings him to Loxahatchee on Saturday for the Acreage Music and Chili Cook-Off. He'll take the stage at 4:30 p.m.
The son of a high school band director, Nail took piano lessons from Mrs. Crow, a neighbor whose daughter Sheryl found success in pop music. That probably explains the liberal use piano on his album.
"My dad said, you're going to be sorry you quit piano," Nail said by phone from a Nashville restaurant. "He has so many lessons I wished I listened to. He's the most talented man I ever met. It's funny but we take advantage of our geniuses." Nail remembers recruiting his dad to play with him with only a few hours notice, if that. He happily complied.
When he got to high school, Nail caused a small-town scandal when he chose choir over band. His dad was fine with it, and he continued to encourage his son, as if he had a sense of the direction Nail's career would take him.
Nail moved to Nashville in 1999, then turned tail and went home before he'd lasted a year. He made a second move in 2000 and nine years later the city is home.
But despite landing a record deal eight months after arriving in Music City for the second time, it took Nail almost eight years to get his record made. The album has been ready for release since 2008 and now should hit the streets on July 14, if Nail's second single, “Red Light”, a sharp-edged break-up song, can catapult it forward.
Nail's vocals are stirring on that song, and on “Turning Home”, the high end of his range is riveting. The album's instrumentation - steel guitar, dobro and strings - is the perfect seasoning on this luscious piece of work.
Nail made the record with Frank Liddell, a Nashville veteran who produced - and married - Lee Anne Womack. Liddell had an easy rapport that balanced Nail's intensity. "We spoke about making the record every day for eight months before we even started recording."
Nail recruited some a-list performers as songwriters— Kenny Chesney and Rascal Flatts' Gary LeVox — along with award-winning writers Aimee Mayo and Neil Thrasher to contribute songs.
One song that was a sure thing to be on the album was Nail's first single, “I'm About to Come Alive”, originally recorded by Train. The song peaked at No. 47 on Billboard last July, but the video got quite a bit of play on country music television. "That's one of those songs that I can remember exactly the time of day and where I was when I heard it. I'll bet I stopped and rewound the tape 50 times before I even listened to it all the way through. It mirrored what I was going through personally at the time, captured the perfect moment. It tugged at my heart strings, and it took on a different symbolic meaning."
Now, with his career about to come alive, Nail sees another parallel.
Nail penned four of the 11 songs on the CD, and says song-writing is a cathartic experience, better when it comes about organically. "I struggle with the whole concept of meeting in a room at 10 a.m. and trying to write a song about a specific topic. Most of the really good stuff I've written is that stuff where you're tossing and turning at 3 in the morning, and you have to do something.
"I am a passionate, serious person. Someone told me that I almost look like I'm angry, and that serious artists are never successful until they die."
Despite those criticisms Nail's not about to change. You might as well ask Toby Keith to wear spandex. It's just not going to happen.
Nail told her, "I have to be true to myself. I know what makes me happy, and I'm in touch with the darker emotions. I'm not sitting here saying I'm on par with Kurt Cobain, or that I'm changing the world, I'm just very focused. I have an obsessive streak, especially if I can see the end of the tunnel."
The cerebral song-smith is willing to suffer for his art, but right now, he admits, he's too happy to write. He's getting married in June to beauty pageant princess Catherine Werne, his girlfriend of just more than a year.
Even in the emotionally-charged world of country music song-writing, Nail remains a pragmatist.
"Sometimes that's the most disheartening thing that no matter how much of yourself you give to it, at the end of the day it is a business," Nail said. "But if it all ends tomorrow for me, the things I've gotten to do and the places I've seen, I've had a very blessed life."