This is the third studio album from singer/songwriter Nels Andrews, with songs largely set in and around New York City, (his most recent roost since Albuquerque) until he found himself living in coastal California last summer.
Scrimshaw is a masterful and organic progression from Andrews 2008 Off Track Betting (a real folking treasure chest!). It is as if he took the muscular strength of the songs from his first album, Sunday Shoes, and blended this with the sonic range and artful instrumentation that made Off Track Betting rise from the ranks of most singer/songwriters. Nels has kept true to his folk roots, foremost he is here to tell you a story. As always, his voice is warm and captivates you, melodies hanging in your ears long after the songs end, but in Scrimshaw we can also hear the echoes of Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks and the influence of Ziggy Stardust era David Bowie in his writing. In ‘Barroom Bards’ Nels suggests the textures of the San Jorocho music he’s been hearing lately on the Mexican radio airwaves floating up from Los Angeles. ‘Wisteria’ is a love story from the point of view of a flowering vine that has climbed up the front of a lower east side brownstone for a century. ‘Small Victories’ tells the story of a bohemian enclave being evicted from the apartments hidden above Carnegie Hall. ‘Three Hermits’ a co-write with WB Yeats. ‘Tridents’, ‘Starboard’, ‘Lost Year’ and ‘Houdini’ are all tales of different sorts of love and ambition, intimate glimpses of characters orbiting a city that won’t rest.
“These songs were written last year, when I stayed home for a while, splitting my days between working as a chauffeur in Manhattan and watching my infant son grow into a toddler in and around our Brooklyn apartment. At night, while he slept, I culled the fragments of my days, and let them sift and blend with everything blurring past me each day on the street. The city felt so full of movement and ambition at a time in my life which felt decidedly (or at least relatively) not. I tried to boil it all down for this album, these little scrimshawed stories.” Nels Andrews
“Scrimshaw” The art of carving or incising intricate designs on whalebone or whale ivory.
“In the 1800s, whaling voyages would last 3 years or longer; several weeks, sometimes months, could pass between Whale sightings. This gave the whalers a great deal more free time than other sailors of the day. Manuscripts were penned, and finely crafted stories were told in thin line on bone. I imagine it was the romantics, if forced to sea, who would take to whaling, finding somewhere to occasionally oust their courage between long bouts of contemplation, and rum. They probably also liked the rum.” Nels Andrews, 2012
The basic tracks of Scrimshaw were captured at Brooklyn Recording in NY, (non-intentionally overlooking the naval docks). Very glad for the return of Todd Sickafoose (Tiny Resistors, Ani DiFranco, Anais Mitchell, Yoko Ono, Andrew Bird) for the production and mixing, and a grand tapestry including my touring band (Jonathan Goldberger and Brandon Seabrook) and wildly talented friends from all over the country. Nels Andrews
Artist’s website: http://nelsandrews.com/
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