Canadian Americana songwriter Nick Nace has a new album, The Harder Stuff, which was recorded at Smoakstack Studios in Nashville in March 2021. It was produced by Steven Cooper and mixed by Nace’s brother Justin. Musicians on the album are Jon Latham on guitar, Todd Bolden on bass, Erin Nelson on drums, Megan Palmer on fiddle, John Henry Trinko on keyboard and accordion, Owen Beverly on organ, John Calvin Abney on accordion and bell, Steven Cooper on guitar, and Nick Nace on vocals and guitar. A nice mix of quality folks.
The first song is significant. “Figure 8’s” is magnetic compelling songwriting to draw you in — the kids are acting up, and he’s drawing figure 8s around the driveway on roller skates, summertime is in the air, all with stretchy Americana guitar tones. “A little taste of freedom is as close as I will come.” Sometimes you feel so trapped.
“There’s No Music in Music City” is a misty dreamscape lamenting the wash of superficiality in the ol’ music city. “A guitar case in the corner, covered thick with dust.” “Little Kid” has a kaleidoscope waltz intro, and “they tore down my school,” is a witness to the changes in the way things were, and time flying.
“The Rio Grande on Christmas Eve” is another waltz with accordion and is a great song already to put on next year’s sardonic holiday songs list. “The Piece That Fits” is about Jenny who joined the cult as the couple just can’t see eye to eye, even as she was a lone runaway, things change, with more accordion and two broken souls who can’t be fixed.
“Someday Is Too far Away” is a western slow tempo rocker with the hollowed realization that time has passed, “tomorrow came and went,” with a deep electric guitar Americana chill.
On the title track, it’s “I turn on the tv, the headlines so sad, but the thing about whisky, it never goes bad,” and boom, you’re at the heart of thing. “When things get bad, when things get tough, I reach for the harder stuff.”
Nick Nace has a gritty, flinty voice that blends James McMurtry’s tremor and Willie Nelson’s earnest quality somehow, but with a completely individual tone. It’s funny how this Canadian transplant to Nashville can sound so much like a Texan. Great songwriting.
Find his music here: https://nicknace.bandcamp.com
And here with show information too: https://www.nicknace.com/home
Enjoy our review of Nace’s earlier album, here: REVIEW: Nick Nace’s “Wrestling With the Mystery” Tells Penetrating Tales