Hello, Israel Nash Gripka.
This was my first introduction to this budding indy star. Israel has been building a fanbase all over the world over the past couple years according to his website – About Israel Nash Gripka.
Right away with the opening track on his latest album Barn Doors And Concrete Floors you get a feel for what Israel is all about. The harmonica comes in strong on the opening track Fool’s Gold and you hear the classic rock and Americana vocals. It’s a throwback to a time where folk, rock, and country blended together.
It’s a refreshing wave of music.
Barn Doors and Concrete Floors by Israel Nash Gripka
1. Fool’s Gold
Mellencamp and Springsteen show their influence on this record right from the opening track. The harmonica comes through in its greatest form. We first hear Israel’s voice and it sounds like it was birthed in the era of The Boss and John Cougar. It’s a great track. There is a bit of disappointment in this song. It’s a song you find yourself singing along with even if you’re hearing it for the first time. I love this track.
Drown is probably the most uptempo track on the set. It’s a song about life and the story of experiences for a young man. Much happens and he deals with it the best he can. Sometimes the best we can do is try to survive.
3. Sunset, Regret
This one’s a slow song. It’s a hard track to interpret for me. It seems to be a pondering song about life and perhaps a bit about love. I’m nots ure on the love part though. I’d say it’s more about wondering about decisions in life. The melody is cool and laid back. It’s a song you would smoke a cigarette to on the back porch in the summertime.
4. Goodbye Ghost
As the title suggest this song even sounds like the dark night – the time when ghosts come out. This song has the haunting sound you’d expect. Even Israel’s voice has a different quality to it on this track. He kind of wanes in and out with a rasp more noticeable on this track for some reason. Again I’d say the lyrics are about a love gone wrong. It’s about letting go. At the very least about letting go of something or someone.
5. Four Winds
Things pick back up for Four Winds. Again the influence of Mellencamp and Springsteen come through on this song. The raspy voice. The emphasis on certain parts of the lyrics. It’s classic early ’80s Americana and rock. I love this kind of music so it’s great to hear Israel’s music. With this song he sings about what I think is either being with a woman, but it could be about getting high. I’m not sure. Israel is throwing me for a loop with these stories and lyrics.
This track is surely about a woman. I love when a song tells a unique story about a person. The more obscure details the better. I love hearing the unique stories about people and how they live there lives. That’s what Louisiana is about and it’s a great story song.
The harmonica is back for Baltimore and I love it. There isn’t enough harmonica on the radio today. There isn’t enough in any kind of music being released unless I’m missing it. This song sounds like something is going wrong in someone’s life. And Baltimore is the setting. There are plenty of things that go wrong with poor decisions and bad behaviors. Sometimes all we can do is close the doors for a while.
8. Red Dress
We fall in love on this track. Men are suckers for a beautiful woman and throw in the color red and we melt. I’m not sure what it is about red dresses or red shoes. They attract our attention and drive us crazy. Men are drawn in my the tempting of the woman’s seduction. Miracles happen and sometimes love happens. Red Dress is a cool song. It’s a different kind of love song. It successfully hits the laid back and cool emotion while still getting across the complete loss of control to the power of love.
9. Black and Blue
The opening instrumental on this track reminds me of the ’70s country. There is the waning guitar in the background. Even the speaking of the lyrics by Israel sounds like a few of the great country songs from the ’70s. I love the topic of this song. You can learn only so much from those that come before you, but in the end you have to learn about life on your own. And in order to learn we have to make mistakes. A great life lesson shared here in a great melody.
10. Bellwether Ballad
It seems in this song Israel missed the boat. His woman couldn’t wait for him to settle down. She moved on and married another. Israel looks back on the decision he made in this instance and tries to come to peace with the consequences. Some of us are just drifters, loners by nature. We can’t find it in our souls to settle down when others are ready. We’re left to figure it out in our own time and sometimes that causes pain. This is a good song. It puts you in the reflective state of mind.
I’ll say this song is about the south…Antebellum. Even though the lyric never appears in the song. It could be about a woman though. It’s a tough one to figure. Beyond the story in the lyrics there is great music. After listening to the entire album I realize this was a great song to finish things with. It leaves you wanting more from Israel Nash Gripka. And I think that’s just what an album should do.