Drew Nelson 'Tilt-A-Whirl' - Red House

This is the fifth album from Drew Nelson, the Michigan singer/songwriter and  his first for the Red House label. It continues Nelson’s  songs which document the underbelly of life in small times and those whose dreams have equally been diminished. He treads a similar path to the likes of Chris Knight and Bruce Springsteen with songs that show an affinity for, and understanding o,  those pushed to the margins. Producer Michael Crittenden has given the album an appropriate sense of toughness that underlines the songs of repossession, redemption and regret.

The musicians give the album a tough but tender sound that features B3, a robust rhythm section, electric and acoustic guitars, Dobro and pedal steel and voices, foremost of which is Nelson's lived-in but life affirming voice. He is backed up with strong female vocals from Jen Sygit which makes the overall sound one that is both understated and tough and rocking.  Overall this  is rewarding and stands repeated playing with ease.

Drew Nelson is a good songwriter who has written most of these songs solo but occasionally in partnership with other writers. The  standout songs are the mandolin led Lessons, the tough times of Danny and Maria, the quiet hope of 5th of September and the soulfulness of Hallelujah Morning. There is variety here, there is skill and there is a lot of humanity which makes Drew Nelson a below-the-line artist who is well worth seeking out and hearing, both this and his previous albums.