He might not be the country star that’s burning brightest these days, but David Nail has a low-key, polished and most importantly pleasing sound. Nail plays the Showbox at the Market Wednesday night in a show that should fill the void between smaller local acts and the huge names like Kenny Chesney that fill stadiums.
Nail has a handful of true hits, including his No. 1 single “Let It Rain,” and he’ll likely dust off that and other favorites from his 2008 debut “I’m About to Come Alive” and 2011’s “The Sound of a Million Dreams.”
He also has a single, “Whatever She’s Got,” working it’s way up the country charts right now. It’s the lead single off his new album, “I’m a Fire,” which is set to be released sometime in 2014. Expect Nail to try out some new tunes at the show.
Soundposts had a chance to talk with Nail before his show. Check out the Q&A after the jump.
You’re headlining for the first time in Seattle tonight. How has the tour been going so far?
David Nail: They’ve been great. We’ve always done really well out here on the West Coast, just from years of coming out here and investing in the area and hoping that they appreciate our efforts, and obviously we appreciate theirs.
Tell us a little bit about “I’m a Fire,” you’re new album due out next year. It features a slightly different sound than your past records.
I think that being a misconception or not, people kind of grew to assume I was some kind of balladeer, a guy that sang songs to a piano. For the people that had come out and seen us, they knew that wasn’t the case. So I did feel the need to record some things that maybe showed some versatility. When we tracked the record, we didn’t even track with piano as a way to kind of avoid falling into that comfortableness with instrument. My father played piano and I never had the privilege of playing in bands growing up, so it’s just something that subconsciously I was drawn to. We really wanted to be guitar-oriented this time around. We wanted to pick the best songs possible but also ones that potentially we could play in the set and would help the set. We really made that a huge priority.
What’s the message behind the new album title? “I’m a Fire” is a more aggressive departure from the first two titles, “I’m About to Come Alive” and “The Sound of a Million Dreams.”
There’s a lot of different things that come to mind. The song is a love song. It’s saying “I’m a fire because of you, and your faith and your belief in me.” It was very important to me. I think that having gone through some issues in the past and having a wife that stuck there beside me and kind of had faith in me that I would come around, that songs represents that I’m a fire, I’m here to stay and I’m burning brighter than ever. Record titles are very important to me and something that I’ve always put in a lot of thought into.
You worked with the same group of producers (Frank Liddell, Chuck Ainlay, and Glenn Worf) on all three of your records. Is that continuity important to you?
I think first and foremost, they’ve become friends so anytime you’re working with people who off the stage you enjoy being around, it makes for a more comfortable situation. It was one of those things, going into this record I knew who I was going to be working with and they knew the direction I wanted to go, so there wasn’t any miscommunications. Everybody was very much on the same page and I think that comes from working together for so long.
Talk a little bit about your live show. What can fans expect?
First and foremost, no gimmicks. We don’t do anything planned. Once we get on stage, it’s kind of whatever goes, goes. We hope first and foremost people walk away and say, “That was great music.” We hope to create an energy but at the same time we want it to be sustainable from beginning to end. We want every song to kind of have a purpose. We have a section in the set where we play three or four new songs in a row just to give people a taste of where we’re headed with this record, then we kind of let loose.
You’ve sang “God Bless America” at a St. Louis Cardinals World Series game before. They start the World Series this year in Boston hours before the show. Will you catch tonight’s game?
I think we’ll be able to. It’s something that obviously when the Cardinals are playing, it’s a nerve-wracking thing. Everyone on the bus knows how much I care about them and how much I want to win. At the same time, tonight, I’ve got a job to do and I can’t let a baseball game interfere with the overall purpose of why we’re here. But at the same time, I say that, but I’ll be paying attention big-time when the game is going on.
-Owen R. Smith, on Twitter @inanedetails