"Strikingly intimate album that combines deft storytelling with a warmth of tone and gentleness of pace..awash with layers, metaphors and echoes woven into subtle, contemplative contemporary song. Like finding a seashell at the back of a dusty cupboard, putting it to your ear and hearing the ocean.” - Folk Radio UK
“A delight!” (4/5 stars) - The London Telegraph, UK
"A true wellspring of 21st century music." album of the week, - Iain Anderson, BBC Scotland
“Literate, melancholic songs of life passing.” (4/5 stars) - The Irish Times, UK
“The rhythm of the ocean... and light and shade dynamics reminiscent of Astral Weeks. As great singers do, Andrews has the gift of making the ‘La-La-La’ coda sound as profound as ancient philosophy.” (4/5 stars) - Rock’n Reel Magazine, UK
“A wonderful and delicate work of art.” (4/5 stars) Maverick Magazine, UK
The art of carving or incising intricate designs on whalebone or whale ivory.
"In the 1800s, whaling voyages would last three years or longer; several weeks, sometimes months, could pass between whale sightings, this gave the whalers a great deal more free time than other sailors of the day. Manuscripts were penned, and finely crafted stories were told in thin line on bone. I imagine it was the romantics, who, if forced to sea, would take to whaling, finding somewhere to occasionally oust their courage between long bouts of contemplation, and rum. They probably also liked the rum." Nels Andrews, 2012
"These songs were written last year, when I stayed home for a while, splitting my days between working as a chauffeur in Manhattan and watching my infant son grow into a toddler in and around our Brooklyn apartment. At night, while he slept, I culled the fragments of my days, and let them sift and blend with everything blurring past me each day on the street. The city felt so full of movement and ambition at a time in my life which felt decidedly (or at least relatively) not. I tried to boil it all down for this album, these little scrimshawed stories."
This is the third studio album from singer/songwriter Nels Andrews, with songs largely set in and around New York City, (his most recent roost since Albuquerque, NM) until he found himself living in coastal California last summer. Scrimshaw is a masterful and organic progression from his 2008 Off Track Betting. It is as if he took the muscular strength of the songs from his first album, Sunday Shoes, and blended this with the sonic range and artful instrumentation that made Off Track Betting rise from the ranks of most singer/songwriters. On Scrimshaw, Nels has kept true to his folk roots; foremost he is here to tell you a story. As always, his voice is warm and captivates you, melodies hanging in your ears long after the songs end, but in Scrimshaw we can also hear the echoes of Van Morrison's Astral Weeks and the influence of Ziggy Stardust era David Bowie in his writing. In "Barroom Bards" Nels suggests the textures of the San Jorocho music he's been hearing lately on the Mexican radio airwaves floating up from Los Angeles. "Wisteria" is a love story from the point of view of a flowering vine that has climbed up the front of a lower east side brownstone for a century. "Small Victories" tells the story of a bohemian enclave being evicted from the apartments hidden above Carnegie Hall. "Three Hermits" a co-write with WB Yeats. "Tridents", "Starboard", "Lost Year" and "Houdini" are all tales of different sorts of love and ambition, intimate glimpses of characters orbiting a city that won't rest.
The basics tracks of Scrimshaw were captured at Brooklyn Recording in NY, (non intentionally overlooking the naval docks). “I’m very glad for the return of Todd Sickafoose (Tiny Resistors, Ani DiFranco, Anais Mitchell, Yoko Ono, Andrew Bird) for the production and mixing, and a grand tapestry including my touring band (Jonathan Goldberger and Brandon Seabrook) and wildly talented friends from all over the country.”
Nels Andrews has spent the last decade wandering, gathering songs, and singing them all over the globe, sharing them around campfires, clubs, coffee shops, festivals, and living room floors.
Critically, he’s struck a nerve, earning songwriting awards from prestigious US festivals such as Kerrville, Telluride, and Mountain Stage. BBC 2's legendary DJ Bob Harris (The Old Grey Whistle Test) has recognized his work as an album of the year. He has been in the top 5 of the year Americana UK charts, as well as KRO Dutch National Radio, Alt-country NL, Ctrl Alt Country (Belgium), and the European Radio Americana Chart . Nels’ premiere album Sunday Shoes continued to find itself in Top Ten albums of the year lists, almost always as the only independent release. His second album, Off Track Betting, received similar critical acclaim, leading to headlining shows at the Paradiso in Amsterdam, and national television broadcast from the legendary Bim Huis in The Netherlands.
Nels has shared stages across the US and Europe with the likes of Ramblin’ Jack Elliot, Dick Gaughan, Slaid Cleaves, and The Tallest Man on Earth , main stage performances at Kerrville, Telluride, and twice on the main stage at Holland's TakeRoot festival, The Big Big Country festival in Glasgow, Scotland, and The Orange/Vodaphone Evolution festival in Newcastle.
His new record Scrimshaw is the second collaboration with producer Todd Sickafoose (Anais Mitchell, Ani Difranco, Andrew Bird). Scrimshaw was released in April in Europe, debuted at #1 on the Euro-Americana charts and is already gathering rave reviews internationally.
oh sweet william is it true you’d sung?
rhyming couplets in foreign tongues?
and drank dry the fortunes of banker’s sons
in the el farol bar
“i skipped songs on the river there
I grew long, then cut off my hair
found that love wasn’t really fair,
and real beauty is wild”
a poet in exile and gentleman’s crest?
unsung, un-knighted, and un-repressed?
how you charmed your muse to the little death,
and a helium sigh
“i let her play actress, i let her play queen
strangers could really be anything
when borders make amber of the warmest dreams
and the prettiest scars”
sons and lovers send letters home?
ships in bottles from messages grown?
how the wind shed the skin of that boy you’d known,
and annealed a new man
“i poached sheep with a bowie knife
wrecked el camino’s and socialites,
jumped blind at the fence, thinking sure i’d find
we’ll all land somewhere in time”
barroom bards and river stones don’t shine so bright, when you get them home
come greet the dawn then with me and mine,
who sing of dead kings and compromise
poor sweet william, all full of wine
on your kitchen floor