REVIEW: Israel Nash’s “Lifted” Synthesizes Americana and Psychedelic Sounds

Reviews

Israel Nash wears many hats on his new album, Lifted (Desert Folklore Music). He sings higher-pitched, Neil Young-influenced vocals. He’s a multi-instrumentalist, playing both acoustic and electric guitar, keys, synth, autoharp, organ, banjo, piano, and handbells. He wrote all of the songs. As important as these are, though, these are just part of his fingerprint as producer. As producer, Nash has combined his Americana influences – Young, the Band, Crosby, Stills and Nash – combined them with the orchestral pop of the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds, and taken the whole package to a psychedelic frontier.

For Lifted, Nash assembled a five-piece band: himself, co-producer Joey McClellan (playing lead on acoustic, electric, and bowed guitar, organ, piano, handbells, and rocks, and singing backing vocals), Eric Swanson​ (​pedal steel, synth, acoustic and electric guitar guitar, keys, banjo, backing vocals), Aaron McClellan​ (electric and upright bass, acoustic guitar, piano, keys, organ, handbells), and Josh Fleischmann​ (drums, percussion, beat​s). Nash also brought in 10 additional musicians: Jesse Chandler​ (harpsichord), Gilbert Elorreaga​ (trumpet), Leo Guanna​ (trombone), Evan Jacobs​ (synth, piano, sounds), Cameron Neal​ (backing vocals), Paul Robertson and Kelsey Wilson​ ​(violin), Jenni Wieland​ (French horn), Sadie Wolfe​ (cello), Ted Young (​upright bass).

Lifted combines, perhaps paradoxically, a heavily produced sound with an emphasis on nature. Despite the large number of musicians involve, layering was used extensively, and primary band members often play three or more instruments on a song. On the lead track, “Rolling On,” Nash backs his own vocals and plays acoustic and electric guitar, organ, and handbells. This is an album that will, quite obviously, play very differently in front of live crowds without full orchestral arrangements and layering. Furthermore, all the members are credited with “sounds,” which seems to refer to the natural sounds like water and crickets in the surrounds of Nash’s Dripping Springs studio located in the rural Austin hill country.

Balancing Americana and psychedelia is no easy feat. Americana strips down music, does less with more, while psychedelia layers sounds to create an aural kaleidoscope that swirls the listener’s sense. They pull in opposite directions. It’s a credit to Israel Nash that he’s produced an album that does this as well as it does.  Get yours here.  http://www.israelnash.com/

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