David Nail – “Let It Rain”
After several years of misfires and unsuccessful singles, David Nail finally hit it big with “Red Light,” which took most of 2009 to climb the charts, but eventually cracked the Billboard Top 10. “Turning Home,” the follow-up single, only made it to #20, so for the lead single off his upcoming album, Nail is looking to gain a little permanence on country radio playlists. And judging by its sound, a little crossover into pop radio wouldn’t hurt, either.
If you were to call “Let It Rain” pop-country, you’d be about half right. There’s little if anything here to distinguish it as a country song, and if played alongside Adult Contemporary artists like David Gray, Train and John Mayer, it would fit in just fine. It’s just as well; attempts to make pop songs more country by adding a steel guitar always sound so artificial and disingenuous. Underneath the pop sheen is a vocal performance that would be a welcome addition to any genre.
“Let It Rain” takes on the time-worn metaphor of equating rain with sadness. It’s hardly a groundbreaking idea (see “When It Rains,” “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain,” and of course “Songs About Rain” to name a few), but a few details are added to describe just what Nail did to warrant a thunderstorm dropped on his head. “No seven years of good can’t hide the one night I forgot to wear that ring,” he sings. Information like that helps personalize the story and breathe some fresh life into the concept.
“Let It Rain” does fall victim to the bombast that tends to occur in pop-country music. The production threatens to drown Nail out of his own song, particularly in the chorus. To his credit, he doesn’t fight back with vocal histrionics or shouting. Nail has demonstrated a strong, soulful voice on his previous singles, and it shines over both the band and background singers.
For traditional-minded listeners who discount anything labeled as pop-country, this serves as a reminder that there are meaningful songs out there that don’t necessarily follow the template of classic country music. And just think of how much money Nail’s record company will save by not having to record separate Top 40 and Country versions of the song.
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