The Nell & Jim Band from the album Steel available on Whippoorwill Arts (by Randy Radic)
Northern California’s Nell & Jim Band dropped a new twelve-track album on February 15, 2019. The title of the album is Steel, and it pays tribute to the group’s roots as well as support of the Music Home Project and the Whippoorwill Arts Awards. The Nell and Jim Band began when Jim Nunally co-produced an album for Nell Robinson, followed by the pair recording House & Garden(2013). The duo became a quintet when Jim Kerwin, Jon Arkin, and Rob Reich were added to the lineup. In 2015, the band dropped Baby Let’s Take the Long Way Home, touring in support of the album, while simultaneously working on new material for Steel. Jim Nunally explains the album’s title, saying, ‘it’s a story about a time in my life. Like so many musicians I had a day job - and mine was welding on oil rigs and bridges, working with my hands, welding - but I played my guitar at night at gigs and bars, before I gained success and could dedicate my life to music’.
The first single, “Shady Grove/Matty Groves,” preceded the album, hitting airwaves in late January 2019. An Doc Watson song, “Shady Grove” is an old friend to Jim Nunally, who played the tune alongside David Grisman for sixteen years of performances. Riding a driving groove, the track races ahead, flavored with an infectious accordion, before dropping into “Matty Groves,” featuring Nell Robinson’s drawling tones. “Dime in My Pocket” delivers swampy bluegrass savors as well as Nunally’s tight, reedy tenor. “Red Clay Creek” radiates streaming Alt-Country/Folk hues and delicious vocal harmonies reminiscent of Joan Baez. An old-timey tune called “Man At The Mill” delivers beaucoup twangy vocals and plonking notes from the guitars and banjo. The album’s title track conjures up memories of Bob Dylan covering hoedown songs in a compact, reedy timbres. Jangly guitars infuse the music with buoyant accents, Jim Nunally going a cappella on “Meditation Blues,” accompanied only by ticking clocks, the tune delivering the mood and feel of Janis Joplin’s “Mercedes Benz.” (by Randy Radic)
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