by Kenny Ramos (@KennyRamosLife)
The latest release from David Nance tells a tale of heartland weariness, but one where the Omaha songwriter is far from calling it quits. Nance has since upgraded to recording inside A.R.C studios this time as opposed to solely relying on his trusty Tascam 488—a move that speaks more about his career progression than a shedding of his old self. While Nance’s career continues to flourish, his weathered voice and blue collar candor have given us a fitting album to soak down a few well-deserved drinks to during those mid week gloomy days. It’s the type of revitalization only something with substance can provide, but not the type of substance that eventually leads to bodily harm and addiction. Instead, Negative Boogie, is offered to us as a potent work that won’t wear off after passing out with Nance as its dealer. Or maybe Ba Da Bing Records is technically the dealer in this case, but we’re not here to discuss the supply side of narcotics.
Negative Boogie sounds like it was made for those whose lives feel as if they are on the brink of imploding. I’d describe the album as a mild comfort, like pairing a stiff drink with a smoke. Any more could get you into trouble, but having just enough will give you the courageous facade to cope with the hard times as best as you can. Still, while the album’s sound and lyrics bring heartbreak, loathing, and struggle to the surface, it doesn’t detract from its own listenability. Personally, it would be a huge mistake to peg Negative Boogie as just another release that could only be appreciated by the likes of cultist DIY fans. Its noisy lo-fi sound is obviously Nance staying true to himself doing what he does best, and together with some cross-genre experimental art rock elements, I felt my 42 minutes spent listening to Negative Boogie were worth it.
In particular, the opening track “More Than Enough (Reprise)” is a noise-induced slow saunter of a song fronted with rockabilly-like vocals. With steady drums and bass guitar it reminded me of The Cramps’ “I Can’t Hardly Stand It,” by the way it sounded. If I had to paint a picture describing the opening track, I’d equate it to a full-on rumble in an auto body shop. The slow repetitions stuck with me, and it took a few more songs to get it out of my head. Nance’s cover of “Silver Wings” was an electronically disruptive tearjerker, but also a personal favorite. While I’m sure Merle Haggard purists might disapprove of Nance covering such an intimate song about a long-gone lover in a way that’s uniquely Nance, I felt it was one of the more memorable standouts in the album.
I’d say overall, David Nance captures the essence of having to tirelessly work to maintain your lot in life. It’s a very blue collar mindset to get up and simply get to work rather than wait for the inspiration to strike before doing anything. Hopefully, Omaha’s native son will continue to show us the fruits of his musical labor.