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Israel Nash Gripka - Israel Nash's Rain Plans

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 7 / 10 / 2013

Israel Nash Gripka - Israel Nash's Rain Plans
Label: Loose Music
Format: CD


Stunning 60's and 70's-influenced country rock on third album from Missouri-based singer-songwriter, Isreal Nash Gripka

The third studio album from Missouri native Israel Nash Gripka indicates that the restless singer-songwriter should possibly put down some roots in his current home outside Austin deep in the Texas hills. While his previous albums, 2009’s ‘New York Town’ and ‘Barn Doors and Concrete Floors’ from 2011 were impressive Gripka’s new surroundings appear to have inspired him to make the best album of his career so far. It’s almost as if we can dismiss all Gripka has done before and start here; currently, in the genre Gripka inhabits, there are few who come even close to the brilliance shown in his latest offering. This is very much a band effort. While Israel Nash Gripka wrote and expertly produced the album, the group of musicians he assembled to breath life into his songs is, to say the least, inspired. Gripka shares the guitar parts with Joey McClellan, and while it is uncertain who takes lead on individual tracks these guys know their stuff. Throw Eric Swanson’s pedal steel into the wall of guitars and you’re floating above the clouds. The sound these three guys make is truly outstanding. That said the album would be less of a success if it wasn’t all held together with Aaron McCellan’s brooding bass and the solid beat drummer Josh Fleischmann contributes to each song. Gripka will no doubt, if he isn’t already, be tired of all the comparisons his latest offering will get to not only the Rolling Stones (when they were good) and Neil Young, but also to the work of Crosby, Stills Nash & Young and the whole Laurel Canyon vibe. It is unavoidable though as Gripka not only uses elements of all those bands (and many more) in his wide-open -space sound collages but he also evokes the spirit of those times through his music. ‘Israel Nash’s Rain Plans’ also brings back thoughts of the 60's and s70's by being very much a ‘headphones album’. Listening to the album while driving for instance will transport you right into those snaking hills of Gripka’s current home but experiencing the songs through headphones is something else totally. The guitars soar, one in each ear, the sound is dense yet clear and on tracks like ‘Who In Time’ Gripka has created the CSN&Y backed by Crazy Horse song you’ve waited all your life to hear. ‘Through the Door’ is another Young inspired country/rock masterpiece, which halfway through suddenly takes an unexpected turn, much like Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Oh Well’ for a few seconds at least, before Gripka (maybe…who knows?) lets loose with some of the most inspired and riveting guitar work you’ll hear all year. It’s doubtful that you’ll experience an album where every song gels so neatly into the next without sounding like a mere extension of what has gone before. Gripka makes soundscapes of epic proportions. For all the Neil Young comparisons there’s little in Gripka’s vocal style that will remind you of Young. Gripka paints the same picture in your mind as Young and he takes you to the same places, but he takes you on a slightly more interesting route, one where you are never sure what you are going to face next. It makes for at times uneasy ride, but ultimately a most rewarding one. The epic seven-minute title track is the one to sample if you need convincing of Gripka’s talent. It’s a vehicle for all aspects of his remarkable work, the haunting, captivating quality of his vocals, the heavenly harmonies, the dense wall of sound and that soaring, heaven-bound guitar sound that is a trademark of all the songs here. It’s a stunning piece of work that can’t fail to impress even the most jaded of critics. If it wasn’t for the guitars mellowing out for the last minute or so the song would leave you breathless. 2013 has been a year of great albums but ‘Israel Nash’s Rain Plans’ is undoubtedly one of the best, nine songs, half of them running to five minutes or more so given the time to grow and expand and brimming with some of the best guitar playing we’ve heard all year too. At the time of writing the album was available for a ridiculously low price considering the jewels it contains. There is also a (possibly limited) vinyl edition and a special CD version; this is the kind of album that vinyl was made for. Seriously, if you care about your music you need this latest offering from Israel Nash Gripka in your life. It’s a classic.

Track Listing:-
1 Woman At the Well
2 Through the Door
3 Just Like Water
4 Who in Time
5 Myer Canyon
6 Rain Plans
7 Iron of the Mountain
8 Mansions
9 Rexanimarum

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Interview (2014)
Israel Nash Gripka - Interview
Malcolm Carter chats to Texan-based singer-songwriter Israel Nash Gripka about his much acclaimed third album, 'Rain Plans'

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New York Town (2009)
Remarkable Americana on eclectic debut album from Midwestern-born, but New York-relocated singer-songwriter Israel Nash Gripka

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