David Nail and his wife Catherine were a few months into new parenthood when it truly hit him: He’s now the father of twins, and life will never be the same.
“I can’t go to the mailbox now without having to know exactly where my babies are,” Nail said earlier this week in Nashville at a private party to launch his new album, Fighter, released Friday (July 15).
Up until that point after welcoming twins Lawson and Lillian, Nail would order breakfast takeout every morning and bring it back to the house for the family to enjoy. But one morning, approximately three months after his babies were born, he told his wife he was going out to have breakfast by himself and that he would be back with food after he finished.
After placing his order at a First Watch restaurant in Brentwood, Tennessee, Nail reached out to one his most trusted songwriting partners, Scooter Carusoe. Because in that moment of solitude, Nail found the inspiration to set his feelings of new fatherhood to music. Knowing the couple’s struggles with infertility, Carusoe understood what a miracle it was for the couple to start a family and told Nail that he already had a song started for him. They looped Lee Thomas Miller into the co-write, and that’s how the poignant track “Babies” was born.
Rounding out a powerful three-song movement on Fighter, the ballad reflects the insurmountable amount of patience it takes to truly have faith in the timing of everything. In the chorus, Nail sings, “Good things come to those who wait/I used to think that’s just something people say/So imagine when you get the news/After years of trying/Not just one but two.”
“That’s what I always told Catherine,” Nail said in an interview with CMT.com. “When we were going through our issues with getting pregnant, I always said, ‘I think the good Lord will bless us with kids when he knows we’re ready to be parents.’ I really believed that. We obviously had to make it through a lot of our own issues before we were ready to bring any child into this world. … Once we were ready, we were blessed with not one, but two.”
Family, faith and commitment are common themes on Nail’s new album. Sequenced beautifully under the production of Frank Liddell, the 11-song collection offers an authentic reflection of his transition into parenthood from his rambunctious rolling stone days with the Brothers Osborne collaboration “Good at Tonight” to the beginning a new chapter in love with “Night’s on Fire” and “Ease Your Pain” (the latter of which was co-written by Miller, Jesse Frasure and Chris Stapleton).
Lori McKenna provides background vocals on “Home,” one of the first tracks Nail co-wrote for the project. On “Lie With Me,” he gives a first-person account of a couple trying to recapture the romance they once knew. In “Got Me Gone” and “Champagne Promise,” Nail sings of how love can lift you up and mess you up in the best ways possible. “Old Man’s Symphony,” featuring Bear and Bo Rinehart of NeedtoBreathe, is a heartfelt dedication to his father, Dennis Nail, a former high school band director in Kennett, Missouri.
While discussing the title track, Nail points out that the Vince Gill collaboration “I Won’t Let You Go,” the title track and “Babies” anchor the collection. To the listener, the songs play out as a tribute to one of his biggest fans in life, his wife Catherine, who has seen him through some of his darkest days in his past struggles with depression.
“There was a period in my life where I would come home from the road and I didn’t know whether my wife was going to be there,” he said. “She was, and I found that out three years into our marriage. It was just one of those things where, ‘I thought I knew everything about you. But I never knew you were such a fighter.’”
“I think anytime you meet somebody,” he adds, “and you fall in love and get married, you think, ‘I’ve obviously seen every side to this person, and that’s why I’m wanting to spend the rest of my life with them.’ But I learned something about her halfway through our marriage that was extremely inspiring, and it motivated me to want to be better and want to get better. [“Fighter”] was just a way to pay tribute to that.”
Throughout the collection, the listener can tell that a key source of personal strength for Nail are the family members who came before him. He says they are big part of the reason he continues to make music today.
“The only time my parents ever put their foot down and insisted that I do anything was when I was ready to give up [on music] in my mid-20s,” he reveals. “I would sit them down and I’d tell them, ‘I tried. I’ve done my best.’ But they never would let me leave. They would never let me give up.”