David Nail - 'Fighter'

Released on July 15th, Fighter is country singer-songwriter David Nail's fourth studio album. Coming two years after David's last release, Fighter holds some outstanding collaborations and, interestingly, the most number of songs on any of David's albums so far that he himself has had a hand in writing.

Having already known Lie With Me from it's inclusion on Lady Antebellum's 747 I was both intrigued and genuinely surprised to hear it included on this album however the track's inclusion (and it's popularity) as part of Lady Antebellum's latest album might have worked against David here. Whilst his version is still pretty good and it's nice to hear the track become a little grittier it does feel as though it's missing the extra something to make it really successful. This is quite possibly because, compared to the rest of the album, it doesn't feel particularly memorable. Unfortunately Got Me Gone also feels a little like this. Sarah Buxton makes another appearance on one of David's albums to provide backing vocals throughout the track and it is still extrinsically a good song but, again, it lacks the spark that listeners can hear in other tracks.

One thing that has become increasingly clear to me from David's albums - and this album in particular - is that he's not afraid to really bring each featured artist into the track. With each collaboration feeling more like a duet than just a featured artist singing backing vocals it really heightens the appeal of each track and adds various dynamics to Fighter as a whole. Good At Tonight for instance is one of the most upbeat tracks on the album and Brothers Osborne seem to slip seamlessly into it. A track that urges you to turn it up loud and sing along, it is not necessarily something you would expect from David but it works incredibly well.

There is a good blend throughout the album of more upbeat tracks with a heavier production mix alongside slower, more emotively heartfelt tracks, however it is in those slower tracks that David really shines and it's also where the musicians are showcased at their strongest. Home's almost one and a half minute instrumental introduction could have been boring but you can quite easily feel yourself almost drifting along in the music. The blend of Lori McKenna's and David's voices is an impressive success, both have quite distinctive tones but still complementing each other very well throughout the track as a whole. In terms of the production Home manages to merge the ideas behind tracks with heavier instrumentalisation like Lie With Me and more stripped back, almost vulnerable tracks like Fighter and grows and fades as needed to create a really compelling listen.

The soaring oboe within the album's title track is, in my opinion, one of the strongest instrumental additions within the album as a whole. It works perfectly against the driving drum line and adds a softness that seems to float above the rest of the track and stops the production feeling too heavy. A personal track that still manages to be relatable, Fighter gives us as listeners a really sweet window into David and his wife Catherine's relationship through a song that is openly dedicated to her.

Album closer Old Man's Symphony is the high point of the album and is simply stunning. The only collaboration where the featured artists (Bear and Bo Rinehart) are pulled back a little it allows David to deliver an absolutely gorgeous vocal supported by delicate harmonies. A true goose-bump moment and a heartfelt tribute to his father, Old Man's Symphony is one of two tracks on the album written solely by David and feels incredibly personal to him. You can hear the emotion oozing out of his vocal through the really touching lyrics, Old Man's Symphony is a song that, at it's core, deserves to be embraced and played again and again.

Track listing...
1) Good At Night (feat. Brothers Osborne) - TJ Osborne, John Osborne, Troy Verges, Barry Dean
2) Night's On Fire - Jonathan Singleton, Deric Ruttan
3) Ease Your Pain - Chris Stapleton, Lee Thomas Miller, Jesse Frasure
4) Home (feat. Lori McKenna) - David Nail, Barry Dean, Lori McKenna
5) Lie With Me - Abe Stoklasa, Marc Beeson
6) I Won't Let You Go (feat. Vince Gill) - David Nail
7) Fighter - David Nail, Scooter Carusoe, Troy Verges
8) Babies - David Nail, Scooter Carusoe, Lee Thomas Miller
9) Got Me Gone - David Nail, Dave Barnes, Jonathan Singleton
10) Champagne Promise (feat. Logan Brill) - David Nail, Lee Thomas Miller
11) Old Man's Symphony (feat. Bear Rinehart and Bo Rinehart) - David Nail 

An incredibly impressive album all round, Fighter continues to build upon David's previous albums and is definitely his strongest so far. A welcome addition to any country fan's music collection and overall showcasing David at his strongest, Fighter is undoubtedly an album that proves both his vocal talent and his song-writing skill. There are definitely quite a few songs here that I'd like to see released as future singles, it'll be interesting to see this album's journey! Trust me, go and buy it right now.