David Nail Finds His Way Home With ‘Fighter’ Album
David Nail says he didn’t intend to record an album as personal as Fighter, his fourth studio album. There are songs about his twins, his wife and his personal demons that he’s nervous about performing. He’s taken “Home” on the stage a few times, but old memories make it a song he’s cautious to overplay.
The ballad is a collaboration with songwriter Lori McKenna that explores the love/hate relationship so many have with where they grew up. For Nail, it’s more love lately. But that’s symbolic of where he is in life. The singer grew up in Kennett, Mo., Sheryl Crow’s hometown. Still, the city limits were lined with doubters.
“There was always part of me that always felt that there were some people that I don’t wanna say didn’t believe I couldn’t do it, but they definitely thought that the route I was going was not the smartest,” Nail says. “That caused me to wonder if where I grew up and how I grew up was kind of holding me back.”
With encouragement from his choir director, Nail did escape. He moved to Nashville shortly after high school and rode the Music City roller coaster up and down repeatedly. Now that he’s had some success, found love, had babies and begun treating depression that nearly cost him everything, he admits he leans on the community that raised him. He’d move back tomorrow if wife Catherine would let him.
“Every major moment in my life, both good and bad, I’ve always kind of leaned on where I grew up, and how I grew up,” he says.
“It’s where you’re from / It’s your oldest friend / And you think it will forget you when you go but you know it’ll take you back in / It won’t fade away / It’ll watch you leave / It stays sitting there waiting in the fields and the sky and the stone / In your blood and your bones / Home.”
“Home” is one song that lasted through the changes Nail made to Fighter. What started as a personal album became one that wasn’t, and then in an instant it became very personal. The change came a few months after Catherine gave birth to Lawson and Lillian in December 2015.
“To be honest, I never could understand why this magical change wasn’t happening,” he says. “And then a couple months after the kids are born I just kind of had a revelation on everything that had transpired and just got extremely emotional and that led me to write a song called ‘Babies.’”
“Babies” is about his babies. He’s yet to perform it live. A song called “Old Man’s Symphony” is an airy guitar ballad about his father. He’s yet to perform it live, either, and doesn’t think his dad has even heard it. “I Won’t Let You Go” and “Fighter” are about his wife and marriage, what he put her through as he battled depression and how dedicated he is to their love. He’s sung the title track a few times, but has yet to sing “I Won’t Let You Go.”
Vince Gill joins him on this track, the halfway point of Fighter. Other guests on the album include Brothers Osborne, newcomer Logan Brill on a drop-dead sexy one-night stand song called “Champagne Promise” and members of NeedtoBreathe. Heavy ballads dominate, and at times, one has to listen intently to access the story. But Nail says that’s why he loves country music — fans can take his joy and pain and wear it how they like.
Look for Fighter in stores and at digital retailers on July 15.
See the Best Albums of 2016 So Far