David Nail’s certainly had an interesting career. In the early part of the last decade, David Nail signed a record deal with UMG Nashville and when a song called “Memphis” failed to be a hit, he was released from that contract. Flash forward a few more years and David somehow managed to get signed to the very same record label group. When “I’m About To Come Alive” didn’t become the hit they’d envisioned, the label didn’t fret, they kept with David and released “Red Light.” The song eventually became his first big hit; he released the soul-filled I’m About To Come Alive and then scored another hit with “Turning Home” before moving on to his next album, The Sound of a Million Dreams.
Working with one of the producers (Frank Liddell) that made I’m About To Come Alive the strong album that it remains, David Nail has crafted one hell of a new album (which is co-produced by noted engineer Chuck Ainlay too). The song selection on this country record for the 21st century is simply fantastic and ranges from the funky R&B growl of album opener “Grandpa’s Farm” (a song that has also been recorded by the song’s co-writer Adam Hood an WB Nashville artist Frankie Ballard on their 2011 release. “Grandpa’s Farm” has the soul of a classic southern rocker and in the hands of Nail, it feels like a future hit that could not only be a country chart-topper but a chart-topper for the Triple A chart as well, thanks to a crack group of session musicians and harmony vocals from Joanna Cotton and Kim Parent providing the requisite atmospheric harmony soul a song like this requires.
As a guy who is only months apart in age from David Nail, I definitely can relate to finding the lone album from The Ranch to be one of the best albums from 1997. In fact, it’s a record that still stands out today and one of the clear highlights on the record, for me, is the song “Desiree,” written by Keith Urban and Vernon Rust. It’s an emotional tune that finds the narrator coming to the realization that he’s nothing more than a past the time plaything for the girl he’s fallen for. Why, you ask? Because he’s a guy not from the right family and doesn’t have money to give her the life she dreams of having (like the other guy can). What’s surprising to me is not that “Desiree” was recorded again but that it wasn’t recorded by a band like Little Big Town but I digress but this song is still absolutely stunning in the hands of David Nail with Sarah Buxton and Chris Rodriguez providing the harmony vocals on the track that are needed to sell it. Perhaps a bit too long for country radio, I’d still love to see the song somehow sneak on the charts.
“Songs For Sale,” written by Scooter Carusoe and Billy Montana, finds David describing, with great detail, the choices we all make in life to do the job that we end up doing, it’s just that he, himself, has ‘songs for sale.’ Lee Ann Womack sings fantastic harmonies on the track, once again proving that harmony vocalists can add to a song, something that also happens on lead single and Top 10 hit “Let It Rain.” One of only three songs written or co-written on the album (this one co-written with “Red Light” co-writer Jonathan Singleton), the track features Sarah Buxton singing harmony once again and it’s a job she – like Vince Gill and Womack – is fantastic at and able to add a little of her own personality to the song w/o distracting the listener.
The melodies of “She Rides Away” and “Catch You While I Can” both have cool vibes while the ballad “I Thought You Knew” and “ That’s How I’ll Remember You” both have stories that are relatable and moody melodies to help make the song feel like more than ‘filler material” on a record.
The album’s title track, “The Sound of A Million Dreams” was written by Phil Vassar and Scooter Carusoe and quite honestly, I’m surprised that Vassar didn’t save the song for himself. The melody is gorgeous, the lyrics tell a story and I’ll be damned if I cannot relate to the song and how songs are able to become hooks for our memories and how just hearing a song can bring us back to a moment of our life like it’s a mini movie. Performed with a piano and steel guitar, and light percussion, the song is produced expertly and I have a feeling that it has a chance to become David Nail’s “The House That Built Me,” a song so beautiful and relatable that it has to be heard. It’s all but assured of being the second single from the album and that’s a great thing. Another great song on the record is the closing track, “Catherine.” Originally written from the nuptial vows for his wife, “Catherine” became one of his favorite songs and it serves as a fantastic showcase to David’s voice on the record as well.
Far too often a promising artist’s career gets killed before it can ever really get off the ground but thankfully there are times when an artist manages to ‘get lucky’ again and then they’re allowed to grow into their artistry. This is exactly what’s happening with David Nail on his sophomore release The Sound of a Million Dreams and it’s a record that allows him to not only avoid the Sophomore slump but it showcases an artist who should be on his way to becoming one of country music’s A-list artists.