David Nail – “Let It Rain”

Sam Gazdziak | February 14th, 2011

David NailAfter 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.

Thumbs Up

  1. Ben Foster
    February 14, 2011 at 9:42 am

    I like this one pretty well. Strong vocal performance, admittedly bombastic production, but the strength of the lyric ties the song together and makes it a keeper in my book.

  2. Kyle
    February 14, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    Nothing wrong with a little pop if it’s got some real feeling behind it, along with a great vocal.

    David Nail is kind of like the pop-soul version of Chris Young to me. He seems to get music row’s leftovers when it comes to songs sometimes, but he’s got such a great voice I keep wanting to hear more from him.

  3. Matt B
    February 14, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    Kyle,

    How is does he get ‘music row’s leftovers’ if he wrote it himself?

  4. Rick
    February 14, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    David sang this new single at Dierks Bentley’s “Friends” show on Saturday night in a solo acoustic style and it was a nice song. In fact all of the songs David sang were very nice pop songs with no country trappings. David’s voice is just as good live as on his recordings, so he is the real deal talent wise. David made his intro by saying something like “This is as good of time as any to mangle this new single in public!”. (lol)

    I agree with Sam in that David is making no pretensions to having ties to traditional country in his music. Its mellow pop and quite good for what it is. I don’t listen to Top 40 country radio, but if I did and this song came on I wouldn’t lurch for the radio to change the station…

  5. Nicolas
    February 14, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    I like this song, and I really enjoy David Nail’s voice. He’s one of my Top 3 favorite male vocalists in the genre, and I hope this can get him that “permanence” with country radio, because he is so good.

  6. Kyle
    February 14, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    Didn’t know he wrote it himself (I know Young writes most of his own stuff too).

    All I meant is that they’re two of the best singers in Nashville, but often aren’t singing the best songs produced by Nashville – self-written or not.

  7. Mike Wimmer
    February 14, 2011 at 6:39 pm

    I really wasnt a fan of David Nail after his first couple singles, but man did he cut a couple of damn good songs on his debut album like “Strangers On A Train” and “Looking For A Good Time”.

    Yeah, he’s pop, but if he cuts more songs like those and with that voice I will pay attention.

  8. Sayshal
    February 14, 2011 at 8:07 pm

    Nice review.

    I’m a fan of this, though from the start I knew it was more pop than country. I really don’t listen to pop music, and most of the time I’m all for more “traditional-sounding” country, but it’s hard not to root for David Nail. Although this is bombastic, Nail is one of few people out there who can keep up with so much noise.

    This song works. He sounds very “into” the song as well…pain in his vocals, but still it’s like he welcomes the rain since he feels so “wretched.”

    I do think this has the potential for a crossover, and the only reason I would want it to do so is to open David up to some new fans, and maybe get some more people to think that country music isn’t “so bad.” If it does crossover, I’d prefer it to do so naturally.

    All that aside, I think this could do well on country radio. Maybe another top 10 for David, and possibly his biggest hit so far…

  9. jay
    February 14, 2011 at 8:32 pm

    Awesome review of an awesome song. I saw david live just before this song was released and he is very good on stage. Hope this goes big for him.

  10. Kyle
    February 19, 2011 at 5:59 pm

    Wow, I just now really had a chance to listen to this start to finish and I’m actually really impressed – the production is annoying, but it’s a very well written song. I’m a big fan of Jonathan Singleton, but it’s pretty impressive for a young artist to write a song with only one outside writer that (in my opinion) would be good enough to get an outside cut.

    You can really hear the Pat Monahan influence though. I’ve seen where Nail says he considers him the best singer in any genre, and you can hear a lot of him in both the phrasing and production in this song.

  11. Thomas
    February 20, 2011 at 10:43 am

    …i like the song and the singer but can he do a country song?

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