Release date: Friday, March 12th 2021
“Music can be the space where people think––even just for a few minutes,” says Israel Nash. “The space is not about changing their lives or political views or their party ticket. It’s about creating something that prompts reflection in a moment––and those reflections have other chain reactions.”
Nash is sitting outside in the sun, thinking. It’s something he does often, looking out over endless Texas hills that surround his family’s rural home. He’s thought a lot over the last several years about music––not only how to make it, but why. What is the endgame for Nash, a critically acclaimed rock-and-roll groovesman, personally?
Nash’s magnificent new album, Topaz, is what happened when he found his answers. Nash recorded the album over the course of about a year in the Quonset hut studio he built about 600 feet from his house in the Texas Hill Country. While musician friends from nearby Austin contributed to the project, Topaz marks the first album Nash has recorded mostly on his own, both taking his time and relishing his newfound access to immediacy, punching the red button moments after an idea hit. “It’s allowed me to capture sounds and ideas, to really get stuff out of my head and into the world so quickly,” Nash says.
The resulting Topaz is a triumphant rock-and-roll experiment, full of fat horns, gospel choruses, swagger, hope, and pain. The meaty rock foundation with touches of psychedelia and skylark folk that fans have come to love are still here, now with a soulful heft that nods to Muscle Shoals and Memphis. Political and personal, Topaz is moody and vast, cohesive and compelling.
Nash first generated attention more than a decade ago as a rock-and-roll torchbearer based in New York City. European audiences became his earliest devotees, and publications such as MOJO embraced him. Nash spent 6 years in New York, and while the time was formative, his deepest roots are not in crowded urban concrete, but in the sparse Midwest as the son of a pastor. Music grabbed him early, but school was a priority, so Nash went to college and ultimately earned his master’s in political science at the University of Missouri––all while fronting rock bands at night. The move to New York after graduation was exhilarating, then, as Nash and his wife began to crave the country, the two bought a little acreage in Dripping Springs, Texas, packed up, and dug in to what Nash now calls their “forever home.”
Topaz aims to satisfy that need: to meet people, right where they are, with music that can be a provocateur, a perfect groove, or both.
Nash is often portrayed as a metaphysics-loving hippie, living off the land alone––and he is. But he is also a pragmatist with a master’s degree who needs time in the city and to be with people. Nash’s gentle insistence that he is all of these things––and more––is an important reminder for the rest of us: We all contain multitudes.
01 Dividing Lines
03 Down In The Country
04 Southern Coasts
08 Howling Wind
09 Sutherland Springs
Website Israel Nash