The Five Ways David Nail Is So Country

Sometimes I like country songs that cross over to other formats, but I always love the ones that never will.

Enter David Nail. And more specifically, his new music. Other than the lead single “Whatever She’s Got” and maybe a couple of other songs, his new album I’m a Fire is undeniably country. Here are just five examples of how Nail is staying true to his country roots:

1. An “I-hope-you-sing” song: Remember Lee Ann Womack‘s 2003 video for “I Hope You Dance” ? Her two little girls were in it, and at the time, her older daughter Aubrie was about 12. Now Aubrie Sellers is all grown up and singing background vocals on Nail’s “Brand New Day.” She brings even more country soul to the ballad with a voice that sounds half Womack and half Miranda Lambert. Sellers is currently working on own debut record.

2. A song with a story I can’t explain: On “The Secret,” there’s love and loss, but there’s also so much more, including infidelity, shame, an unplanned pregnancy and a tragically young death. It’s heavy but in a very moving way. It leaves me with so many questions, it makes me want to replay it again and again.

3. A Glen Campbell cover tune: Back in 2009, Nail told me Campbell’s Galveston changed his life. That 1969 album was the one that made him want to be a country singer. So it’s such a fitting tribute that Nail included a cover of the title track — as a duet with Womack — as the final song on this new album.

4. There is so much Scooter Carusoe: Nail penned most of these tunes with some of Nashville’s smartest songwriters, but it’s his collaborations with Scooter Carusoe that consistently yield the truest country lyrics. Carusoe has co-written some big hits for Kenny Chesney, including “Better as a Memory” and “Anything but Mine,” so when I see his name in the liner notes, I have kind of a Pavlovian response. I know I will love it, and I always do.

5. A nostalgia song, courtesy of Brett Eldredge and Little Big Town: There was no need to reinvent the memory-lane song, but Nail did it and, well, nailed it. “When They’re Gone (Lyle County)” was co-written by ACM new artist of the year nominee Eldredge and features vocals from Little Big Town. Nail has said he’s a sucker for songs about life’s glory days, and so am I.

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.