Currently touring the UK to promote this, his Red House Records debut, Michigan based Drew Nelson makes a bold bid to be considered in the same league as the likes of Springsteen, Mellencamp and Earle. Bold indeed and some might think farfetched but several of the songs on Tilt-A-Whirl come very close to the standard one expects from that triumvirate of blue-collar rockers while Nelson has form with his 2005 song, Wal-Mart V2.0 a magnificent Dylanesque clattering rant against the conglomerations changing the American landscape.
Flying the flag for the working class (singing “welcome to the world of the working poor” on Promised Land) and capturing life like stories (Danny and Maria’s soapbox romance) Nelson muscles into view with a rousing rock based sound but the spirits of Springsteen and Mellencamp hover too close for comfort here leading one to think that what we have is a mere copyist. Unfair however as from here on in Nelson delivers a set of perfectly pitched songs that might doff their hats to Bruce and John et al but resolutely stake their claim to walk along side them. The bluster of the opening songs is replaced by some superb and delicate playing with sweet guitar breaks, atmospheric keyboards and sweet pedal steel and Dobro. Dust is an almost perfect song with all the parts combining to create a fantastic whole. Nelson rails against the bankers who can destroy lives with a stroke of a pen over a superb backdrop. St. Jude is an historical supplication to the patron saint of fools, the last resort for those forced up against the wall and the reverential treatment here is sublime. This cracked forlornness is repeated on 5th Of September and What She Does with slightly swelling organ and fine harmonies from Jen Sygit caressing the songs and Nelson’s vocals. Some of the songs have a jauntiness about them with Hallelujah Morning the most optimistic song here and Here To There skipping above its string arrangement while Nelson waxes poetic.
This is a fine album which wears its heart on its sleeve and sets Nelson up to be considered as a force to be reckoned with. As mentioned, he’s in the UK right now so catch him if you can.
Fri 16: Rothesay, Argyll Arms
Sat 17: Abington, The Abington Hotel
Sun 18: Kirton in Lindsey, Diamond Jubilee Town Hall
Tue 20: Bury St Edmunds, Private House Concert
Wed 21: Hempstead, The Bluebell Inn
Thu 22: Scunthorpe, The Plowright Theatre
Fri 23: Livepool, Leaf
Sat 24: Kendal, Brewery Arts Centre
Sun 25: Exeter, Phoenix Arts Centre
Tue 27: Battle, The Senlac Inn
Wed 28: Kelvedon, Private House Concert
Thu 29: Dedham, The Sun Inn
Fri 30: Launceston, No.8 Café
Sat Dec 1: London, The Borderline