Nels Andrews Premieres New Single & Announces Forthcoming LP At PopMatters
Although he was born by the sea, it wasn't until he moved to the desert that storyteller Nels Andrews began writing songs. He sang them alone in a house constructed of mud and tires on the sage-brushed mesas of Taos, New Mexico where he spent his 20's, airing them occasionally around campfires. It wasn't until a move 90 miles south to the dusty yet curiously eccentric city of Albuquerque that he began to play them in front of strangers, and from there, to start collaborating. He began to shape his desert-infused folk/rock sound, pairing literary narratives of curious high desert outsiders with the psych-rock palate and electro-fuzz of his then band,
The El Paso Eyepatch, and resulted in his debut album Sunday Shoes. After a stint living on the east coast in the bohemian enclave of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Andrews is happily stationed near the sea again in Santa Cruz, California. This week, PopMatters announced the upcoming release of his fourth studio album record Pigeon & The Crow, and premiered album single "Scrimshaw," which features fellow indie folk trailblazer Anaïs Mitchell, "a gently-turning love song that sets its focus on the middle bits of long-standing relationships that still have their fair share of stunning highs," PopMatters says. "This song is about being steady and constant in a long term relationship as the verses jump through seemingly scattered vignettes, a nod to the Bollywood movies and music I've grown to love," Andrews says of the song. "Personally, for me, it's about shedding my vices, and finding new surprises in myself and the in the ones I love, holding strong like the cypress trees that weather so gracefully on the cliffs of California's central coast. Honored to have Anaïs Mitchell singing with me on this one."
Andrews has gracefully woven the morning fog, redwoods, and oceanside into his forthcoming record Pigeon & The Crow, produced by traditional Irish flutist Nuala Kennedy (Gerry O'Conner, Will Oldham). A songwriter's record in the spirit of Van Morrison's Veedon Fleece with a breath of the texture, rhythm, and longing of Milton Nascimento's Club De Esquina 1, Pigeon & The Crow brims with literary wordplay, mixed with some sway, some shimmer, and some sand between your toes.
The record was tracked live over three days at Whispering Pines Studio in Los Angeles, which was originally built for Sam Cooke in the 60s, turned into a funk/soul palace in the 70s, abandoned when the owner found religion in the 80s, and later rehabilitated by Indie rock outfit Lord Huron. While recording, Andrews slept on the tracking room floor every night and dreamt in technicolor born of the vibes steeped into that well-worn musical space. Andrews, along with Kennedy, Sebastian Steinberg (Iron and Wine, Fiona Apple, Soul Coughing) on bass, and Quinn on drums/percussion (T-Bone Burnett, Eastmountainsouth), breathed life into the songs together in that one room-and then the international collaboration began. Producer Kennedy headed back to Ireland with the tracks in tow, and beamed them across the globe to the rest of the players-from the UK to the Azores. The album boasts a mix of traditional players from Kennedy's past to some of Andrews' newest old friends like Stelth Ulvang of The Lumineers, as well as some older old friends and collaborators from New York, including guest appearances by fellow songsmiths Anaïs Mitchell, AJ Roach, and Anthony Da Costa.
The result is 10 ethereal yet substantial tracks that assess life "mid-game," a time that is less straightforward than youth imagined, where our strategies and gambits are yet unresolved-stories from a place past innocence but perhaps still before wisdom. These are songs written about that place: an actress in her sunset, a husband folding now-soft wedding sheets, a father meditating on love and selfishness, and the ghosts of former relationships. Pigeon & The Crow contains wistful resolve, a steady backbone, and a late afternoon light reflected off the sea.
"Scrimshaw" is available via iTunes, Amazon Music, and Google Play. Pigeon & The Crow is set to be released August 9, 2019; the album and its accompanying illustrated comic book and can be pre-ordered at Bandcamp.