By John Benson
Just like a rookie baseball player looks for the big hit to propel his young career, country singer David Nail felt like a rookie with plenty to prove a few years ago with the release of his sophomore album, “The Sound of a Million Dreams.”
Luckily for him, he didn’t waste the moment earning his first No. 1 hit, “Let It Rain.”
However, now Nail is working on following up that success with a new studio album due next year. It sounds like he’s throwing a change-up.
“From year to year I’ve always tried to build and not take any steps backwards,” said Nail, calling from Miami. “I’ve kind of gained a reputation as a singer first and foremost. Both of my previous records had songs where the vocals were definitely showcased. With these new songs, not that they’re any less important vocally, it’s just maybe they’re not as dramatic and ranging. They’re not like, ‘Hey, I’m a great singer. I want to show you with every little line here.’ Sometimes the hardest songs to sing are the ones that stay in the same little range. You’ve got to inflect that emotion and not necessarily with volume.”
For Nail, who arrived in 2009 with debut effort “I’m About to Come Alive” and top-20 songs “Red Light” and “Turning Home,” the new album includes lead single “Whatever She’s Got.”
When asked whether his new album, which may be titled “I’m a Fire,” includes a more subtle feel to the music, Nail stressed it’s not so much that he’s changing his style as he’s varying his approach.
“It’s just, ‘Hey, let’s do something different rather than continue to stay where we’re comfortable,’” Nail said. “So let’s try some new things and let’s grow.”
He added that also describes “Whatever She’s Got,” which he recorded for his wife, Catherine.
“When I first heard the song, I immediately thought about my wife,” Nail said. “It’s just, in general, how complicated women are, but sometimes that complicatedness is what we gravitate towards. And when I first played it for her, she reacted with a lot of head-bobbing, movement and excitement. I kind of used that as a basis for us going in and recording it.”
Naturally, Nail, who returns to Northeast Ohio on Saturday for a show at the Dusty Armadillo, has high hopes for the upcoming album. He’s also a big baseball fan. So it’s pointed out that his career to date mirrors that of a productive young player who has made the show but is looking for continued success. But does he feel like a rookie still?
“I have no clue,” Nail said, laughing.