Nathan Bell

REVIEW: Nathan Bell “Red, White And American Blues (It Couldn’t Happen Here)”


Nathan Bell — Red, White And American Blues (It Couldn’t Happen Here)

Nathan Bell’s Red, White And American Blues (It Couldn’t Happen Here) is a heavy hitter due to be available October 1st on Need To Know Music.  The album was produced by Brian Brinkerhoff and Frank Swart and is 13 tracks strong.

The album features guest vocal performances by Patty Griffin (on three tracks), Regina McCrary (on two tracks) and Aubrie Sellers.

Album opener, “Angola Prison” is a steady low end march, with an intensely gripping groove — “Me and the devil we made a pact, that I’d leave Angola Prison lying on my back.”  Bell wrote this one 5 years ago and thankfully we can hear it now.   It’s the perfect album opener — play it and you’ll keep listening.

“American Gun” is a stripped down hushed song, bouyed by Patty Griffin’s recognizable energetic harmonies. “I’m the very first word in the story to come.”   The song moves through soldiers, passports, Occam’s razor, and Griffin’s “I’ve got one job and I do it well”  harmony hits this one out of the park.

“American Blues (for GSH), to me, might be the centerpiece of the album.  It’s a tribute to Gil Scott-Heron’s song “The Bottle,” and it creates a memorable hooky song on a series of twisted contemporary injustices and harsh realities.

“Retread Cadillac” is a songwriter’s tale of Lightnin’ Hopkins not to be missed.

“A Lucky Man” is a moving tribute, dedicated to Bell’s father and again featuring Patty Griffin.   “When You’re Dead” is a response to a poem by Gaylord Brewer.

“Mossberg Blues” features powerhouse Regina McCrary  and a lot of musical swagger.

“Running on the Razor” is a dark sinister look at the most base of human existences, and the struggle to accept that that level of darkness exists.  But it holds up a mirror to our own inner core too.  In the midst of really seeing what humans are capable of, what else do we see in them beside the dark negative?  How do we reach the humanity?  Aubrie Sellers blends in with a haunting harmony here.

“Monday Monday” is a groovy blues number about working your fingers to the bone and the cycle that Monday morning brings.

“To Each of Us” (a shadow) is pretty acoustic interludes leading to a lovely harmonious blend with Patty Griffin on “you’re all I ever wanted.”

Put this record on the top of the pile for contenders for best albums this year. The reasons this one rises to the top is its perfect combination of factors:  quality production (beautiful and distinctly separate sounds, catchy arrangements), excellent musicianship (with an easy fluidity), stellar vocals (including of course the choices of harmony singers) and serious, heavy and relatable songwriting.  Red, White, and American Blues has it all.

If you need an album that captures the mood of the times, this one is a definite for your collection. Find more details and ordering information here:

Musicians on the album are: Nathan Bell on acoustic and baritone guitars, vocals and harmonica; Alvino Bennett on drums and percussion; Frank Swart on bass, guitar, banjo, and mandocaster; John Deaderick on keyboards; Patty Griffin, Regina McCrary, and Aubrie Sellers on vocals; and Reverend Crow on harmonica.














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