A Narrow Way
To put it short and sweet, A Narrow Way is folk-pop songwriter Nick Jaina’s best work to date and an album easy to leave on repeat.
The “Jaina and friends” live performance is an adrenaline rush – always unpredictable and forever satisfying (and will be available to Davisites this Sunday at Primary Concepts). It’s not an easy task, but somehow Jaina has successfully translated this multi-sensory experience into an audible-only format.
A Narrow Way includes many songs that Jaina’s performed with much response in tours past. Take when the band plays “Battleground,” and violinist Nathan Langston gets rowdy. He cues the crowd to echo Jaina yelling, “It’s a battleground!” and in a matter of seconds the venue becomes an eerie ‘20s saloon.
The explosive energy of the record is attributed to Jaina’s clever instrumentation: the use of the xylophones, slide guitar, violin, trumpets and the occasional whistle. From these tools he transitions in and out of heart-wrenching and lyrically perfect tunes like “Planter’s Field” into high-spirited songs like “I Forget My Name” and “Burning House.“ Though moody from song to song, overall the album is balanced and composed.
He speaks of love in both regretful and euphoric tones; he battles life’s obstacles and takes the devil by the horns; he “needs to play music with [his] friends in the street” (from “Singing the Devil’s Tune“). A Narrow Way is the kind of album that demands a read-along until every lyric is on the tip of the tongue, ready to be sung.
Some artists go through stylistic phases while others work long and hard to develop the right “sound.” Jaina’s work has always been top notch – but in his discography, the third time is the charm – Narrow Stairs‘ ten tracks signify the peak of Jaina’s songwriting career.
Listen to: “Burning House,” “I Know I’m Your Man“
–Nicole L. Browner