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Israel Nash - “Lifted” (2018) review


Israel Nash - Lifted (2018)

Despite being laced with Brian Wilson inspired harmonies and bigger than life symphonic enhancements, Nash seems to be channeling the spirit of Neil Young in Young’s most fragile of moments … where unto that end, Nash is resident, if not outrightly determined to establish qualities that soar with enlightenment through a clear crisp blue sky.

Of course this is an ambitions undertaking for a Texas hippie on this his fifth album, and in so doing, the songs Nash lays out sound nothing like you’d expect based on his previous outings, where here, his lyrical and musical creations are wonderfully ethereal, yet in the same light, venturing down this path he’s leaving behind the simple beauty and connectivity he’s previously established. The record comes off as a kaleidoscope of layered sounds and vision, often dancing close to that psychedelic wanderlust War On Drugs has been doing so well as of late, where Nash is set on emancipating his musical direction, discovering a new manner of expressing the geographic nature of his being by ascending, by flying over that being, by looking down on it rather than being connected at ground level and then soaring upwards.

There’s no denying that there’s an energy here that was only alluded to on his other releases, there’s a seamless vibrant smoothness that was only heard in the background of those other albums, here sounding very cinematic and inspirational … so inspirational that one could make references to the spiritual, though in a very secular manner, with a sense of evolving.

Lifted could have been far more grand had Nash had a guiding hand, one that would have recognized the groove he was slipping into, where with his rolling bass lines, along with his tight and almost drum machine like slapping backbeat, all of the tracks tend to run together as if they were one continuous song, broken up by ideas and concepts rather than individual presentations. To pull this off, as Adam Granduciel understands, is to immerse both body and soul into each song, to not only play the songs, but to ‘be’ the songs … while Nash has not had that notion visit upon him, meaning that the larger picture has eluded him. By no means am I saying this is not a very good record, it’s simply that there’s an undeniable feeling that Nash has not been able to fully grasp or bring his visions to fruition and that’s frustrating, because he probably should have tucked this collection under his bed for six months, taken his songs on the road and revisited them once he’d gotten home.

Simply listen to a number such as “Spiritfalls” and you’ll instantly understand where Nash was headed, yet was never able to consolidate his other material to meet the quality of this track.

- Jenell Kesler
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