Israel Nash’s Silver Season was recorded in a Quonset hut which the singer-songwriter built himself on his own land; as recordings began, he and his band had to dig a trench around it to keep out a spate of encroaching spring flooding. Such insights as these underlie the subtle sense of self-sufficiency burning through the album, which is also awash (no pun intended) with a mix of swirling instrumentation and ethereal vocals.
The Fountain put some questions to Nash about a few of the album’s songs – as well as the state of American politics – on the eve of his 2017 European tour.
TF: Your work has been compared to several classic names of Americana. What innovations do you feel you’ve brought to the genre that are particularly yours?
I just write songs about my real life, what’s going on in my mind and soul. And if you’re honest, other people will feel that too and join in. Shared feelings and experiences make the world smaller. Songs can do so many things on so many different levels.
TF: Your song LA Lately strikes me as both enamoured of Los Angeles, yet still somewhat ambivalent about its lifestyle. Is it something you’ve noticed in other songs about LA as well?
LA is a special place. There are a number of cities throughout the world that I call places where you find your people. LA has been a place to find your people since its inception. Sure there are misconceptions and such, but that’s everywhere. I find the good and the magic around me and LA is full of that stuff. It’s pure song fodder.
TF: There seems to be a kind of world-weariness running throughout the whole of Israel Nash’s Silver Season. Can you elaborate a bit on what might be behind it?
Songwriting has always been a very private and personal experience during the creation process. I spend lots of time by myself writing and pondering. It’s a very reflective time for me when I write. So there is sense of absence in the album but moreover it’s a representation of time, the seasons of life. The ups and the downs, the love and the pain.
TF: There are some passages on the album – particularly on Parlour Song – which could be taken as political comment. What’s your take on American politics at present?
My take on American politics right now is that I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.
TF: Do you think musicians should be more political? Do you think any of your future work will reflect current events?
I don’t think anyone can expect a songwriter to be political. Songwriters are just people and what moves them is unique. But for me, I write about the way I feel. And I care about people and the protections of our freedoms to explore this universe around us. I’m writing a lot about these feelings right now with the current affairs in my country. But change comes from action and passion. Songs stir, but actions change the world.
Photo by Kevin Greenblat.
Israel Nash plays Glasgow’s O2 Academy with Band of Horses on Thursday 16th February. Israel Nash’s Silver Season is out now on iTunes and Spotify.