When I first knew I was going to be writing about Nelsen’s first full-length album, “The Wind,” I was a little nervous. I’d heard Nelsen at a couple house shows, but it wasn’t the type of music I typically listen to and I was there to socialize, so I didn’t pay them a ton of attention.
I was afraid I would have to toss out, “Sounded great, man” a time or two and politely nod after listening to the album – recorded by frontman Nick Nelsen, keys player Landon Mills, guitar player Connor Shaw and drummer Mike Rhian.
Then I actually listened to the album.
By the second song — because one can always be a fluke — I knew I was going to get to listen, not have to listen. “Half-living proof” is one twangier guitar tone away from being a stadium country hit. But even if so, the keys would keep it from being every stadium country hit. Not to mention the lyrics keep it a little darker than the average Keith Urban song:
“It can be as crazy as me / At least once a night you’re all I see / But the more nights go on like this / The more days that I’ll miss / I can never fall asleep / there’s worse things than you that haunt my dreams.”
By the fourth song, I realized I wasn’t going to have to lie. I actually liked this album.
“The Wind,” the title track, starts with just an acoustic guitar before building to arguably the most powerful song on the album. The lyrics epitomize the overall theme of the album of chasing something you can’t have; when the violins come in before the first chorus, the band puts out an emotion everyone can connect to:
“The woman he loves is the wind / chasing her you’ll never win / He saw her and time would freeze / the strongest man brought down by the breeze.”
“He said hold me down until she’s gone / she’ll never come back and before too long / I’ll be 65 and my life will have passed / 65 and the war still lasts / and the leaves are still here from the last 40 years / she hasn’t came back for the wind fears my love.”
From there, it moves to “Father,” Nick Nelsen’s favorite song. “Father” has a little bit of everything, led by a keyboard riff by Mills, trailed by a drum track that will keep you hooked — especially live — and capped by a perfectly fitting guitar solo.
The second half of the album continues to deliver on what Nelsen prides itself on — originality.
It goes from “Over The Hills,” (with lyrics like “The top of this peak I’ll find myself / I’ll stay there for weeks with no one else / but with the rocks I’ll be alone / I’ll take a walk and never come home”) a song with powerful vocals that builds to a big second chorus, to “Reaper,” (“Love is blind to all mankind and deaf to words I wrote / I won’t take this anymore”) a peppier tune written and sung by Mills.
Nelsen pulls from a number of influences in “The Wind,” and it’s obvious in the result.
Hints of Jazz (Shaw), Djent (Rhian) hip-hop (Mills) and Americana (Nelsen) shine through in almost every song to get a sound that is truly unique.