#Music Monday: Singer, Songwriter Israel Nash Soothes Texas with “Topaz”

by Gracie Watt on March 15, 2021 in Entertainment, Music,
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Recorded near his home in the Hill Country, Topaz, the new album from singer/songwriter Israel Nash, hits close to home in more ways than one. 

Released March 12, the candid, textured album was recorded at Plum Creek Sound, where Israel Nash was joined by another Texan artist, Adrian Quesada of the Black Pumas as co-producer. On Topaz, Nash lyrically explores the current political divide, while also delving into more personal topics such as family and home. 

Israel Nash’s new album, Topaz, is both raw and refined, contemplative and gripping, soft yet forceful. The comforting notes of the song “Howling Wind” feel like an old friend, reliable and reassuring, while “Pressure” echoes the constant struggle surrounding so many today.

Creating the Songs

The opening song, “Dividing Lines” sets the tone and message with themes of schism and discord. This song is also the one that Nash is proudest of. “That song was a beast to get out and shape,” he explains. “Most of the time, If I can’t finish a song in a day or so, I kind of abandon it. But every once in a while one of those unfinished songs just won’t go away.” 

The song went through three rewrites. “There are layers upon layers in the outro. But it all needs to be there! It’s controlled chaos,” the passionate artist says.

Nash’s voice croons and shifts into full-on guttural soul singing––with goosebump-inducing fury. “Down in the Country,” a swampy new classic that sounds like it’s always existed, could have been sung by Wilson Pickett. Photo Chad Wadsworth

Musical Influences

On songs such as “Closer,” harmonica and pedal steel are introduced, which has sparked comparisons to Neil Young. Nash is grateful for this parallel, “Oh, I love me some Neil! The ‘70s created a platform for songwriting and reflective music, but also was a time where folks were figuring out how to use the studio like an instrument.” 

Speaking of musical influences, Nash also turns to bands like Pink Floyd. “They gave me such a passion for sonic threads and headphone records. I like to present records that have that songwriter, reflective quality, in a bed of sonic expanse that makes a record a real transformative experience for some.”

“I want the vocals to feel percussive with the drums, because when that stuff goes together as an instrument, it is hypnotic. It is a trip,” Israel Nash says. “Sometimes it’s shaving off or adding the smallest words just to turn the phrase.” Photo Chad Wadsworth

Black Pumas

When asked about working alongside successful Black Pumas member Adrian Quesada, the Ozark Mountains transplant says, “Adrian is so well rounded from playing instruments to getting sounds, you get a little mad at him! He’s got such a strong ear and can find cool grooves in the song that you didn’t even know were there.” 

The pair have been friends for some time, and have been waiting to work together. “With the Pumas, he was mastering some pretty rad sounds, so I wanted to add his palette to mine. I think we achieved a pretty cool marriage of our unique production styles for this one.” 

The follow-up to his 2018 release Lifted, Nash recorded the soulful album Topaz at Plum Creek Sound, his studio assembled from an old quonset hut near his home in the Texas Hill Country. Photo Chad Wadsworth

Discography

Nash moved to New York in 2006 and released his debut LP, New York Town, in 2009. After relocating from the big city to the small rural town of Dripping Springs, Texas, he released his third album, the psychedelic country-rock collection, Rain Plans. Nash further honed his new-age folk sound on Silver Season in 2015, followed by Lifted in 2018. 

As listeners can tell by his growing discography, Nash is motivated to keep putting out albums. “Topaz really came from a desire to make more records, more often. By having my studio now, I find that I can be super productive and record really easily here. It’s like a farm to market thing. Write a song and then record it a few days later,” he explains.   

Texas & the Future

When he’s not writing or recording, Nash likes to kick back on hot Texas days. “Nothin’ like swimming and sitting in the Blanco River when it’s hot as fire out here!”

Giving fans a preview for days to come, the soulful artist says he has a “couple more albums in the vault” he’s been working on. “More records, more often! I’m stoked to sing songs to folks and celebrate life in the flesh and blood!” 

Listen to Topaz now across multiple streaming platforms. 


Cover photo courtesy Kris Wixom

Gracie Watt is the Editorial Intern at Texas Lifestyle Magazine and a junior at St. Edward’s University in Austin, studying Journalism. When she’s not writing, Watt enjoys singing, playing the guitar and doing volunteer work. @gracie.whatt

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