Music Preview | Nell & Jim Band – ‘Steel’ LP
Written by Randy
The Nell & Jim Band, NorCal’s premiere Americana outfit, are set to drop their new album, Steel, February 15. With a full dozen roots-flavored tracks, Steel delivers delicious harmonies and compelling rhythms.
Nell Robinson and Jim Nunally met while working on Robinson’s album, co-produced by Nunally. Later, the duo got together to record their own album, House & Garden. Deciding to add depth and dimension to their sound, they added Jon Arkin, Jim Kerwin, and Rob Reich. What was once a duo was now a full-fledged band of superb talent.
They recorded and released Baby Let’s Take The Long Way Home, followed by an extensive tour during which they worked on new songs that would form Steel, whose title reflects Nunally’s former occupation.
“It’s a story about a time in my life. Like so many musicians I had a day job – and mine was welding on oil rigs and bridges, working with my hands, welding – but I played my guitar at night at gigs and bars, before I gained success and could dedicate my life to music.”
The first single from Steel was released at the end of January. It’s a Doc Watson tune, called “Shady Grove/Matty Groves.” Nunally’s familiarity with the tune spans almost two decades, as he often played it when he was with David Grisman. “Shady Grove” runs on tasty accordion notes full of propelling energy, prior to shifting gears on “Matty Groves,” where the highlight of the song is Robinson’s delightful voice.
Other songs not to be missed include “Dime In My Pocket,” a bluegrass-flavored tune laced with deep South colors, and Nunally’s scrumptiously nasal tones. Fans of Joan Baez will enjoy “Red Clay Creek,” full of folk and country shades, as well as radiant harmonies.
A personal favorite is “Man At The Mill,” rife with drawling inflections and the plunking riffs of guitars and a zesty banjo. Another outstanding track is “Meditation Blues,” on which Nunally’s voice, accompanied by a choir of ticking clocks, delivers a marvelous performance. The title track, decked out with jangling guitar shimmers, emanates a Dylan-esque savor that’s mesmerizing.
Replete with alluring Americana aromas, infectious melodies, and the yummy tones of down-home vocals, Steel is sure to please.
Randy Radic is a Left Coast author and writer. Author of numerous true crime books written under the pen-name of John Lee Brook. Former music contributor at Huff Post.