I Don’t Do This For Love, I Do This For Love (working & hanging on in America).
Stone Barn Records.
A Sad Look at America From the Inside.
I was rather intrigued by the board-game cover of this album; which made me put it in the player before a few more recognisable ‘names’ the day this album arrived; and Thank the Lord I did!
The lovely guitar intro the cumbersomely titled, I Don’t Do This For Love, I Do This For Love (Family Man) instantly caught my attention then Bell’s deep and weather beaten voice; like a cross between Willie, Kris and Townes croons a beautiful love song; well worthy of any of that trio. I was and still am hooked.
By the time I’d got to track #4 All That You Carry I was already googling the songwriter to see where he’d been all of my life.
All 13 songs on this album are loosely based on ‘working’ or ‘not working’ in the USA (or anywhere it appears) in the 21st Century.
Very delicately straddling the line between Folk and Country; nearly all of these songs are timeless to the point; that very little appears to have changed since Woody Guthrie sang about the Dust Bowl.
Bell’s way with the English language is extraordinary; describing Detroit as being ‘where love rusts’ on Good Morning Detroit and on the following Stamping Metal (Strike); he drains the colour out of Springsteen’s Blue Collar style of writing as he tells us ‘The line’s a relentless son of a bitch/breaks 1,000 men/to make one man rich.’ Powerful imagery or what?
While Bell’s words and tunes are Americana to the core, the sentiments in North Georgia Blues, Unforgiven and Stan; about a Vietnam Vet are all songs that can transfer to anyone living and working in any industrial city across Europe too. Times are hard, dear reader and Nathan Bell eloquently gets inside the heart of the men (and women) working their fingers to the bone; for little if any reward.
Most of the people who inhabit Bell’s songs don’t really expect any more than a fair days pay for a fair days work; but occasionally someone in these towns has a talent and a dream that can break them from the shackles of their fathers; and that’s the story behind King of the North.
In this case it’s a young man who was a talented skater in Calgary and goes to Detroit to play for the Red Wings; but eventually returns home ‘without a penny to my name’ and opens ‘a diner with a Red Wings neon sign’ and counts his blessings that he ‘Never had to strip the ground for metal/or build a metal cage.’ Sometimes it’s only our dreams that get us through the day.
There aren’t any laughs here; but I think I’ve fallen in love with Nathan Bell’s songs and his sorrowful voice.
Released UK & Europe March 1st 2016
Released USA January 2016