David Nail realizes that his recent chart-topper “Whatever She’s Got” was a little bit of a departure for him. Before, his success at radio has been with dramatic ballads such as “Red Light” and “Let It Rain.” But, success speaks for itself. The single sailed to the top of the Hot Country Songs chart quicker than any of his singles, and was recently certified platinum, paving the way for this week’s release of his third MCA collection, “I’m A Fire.” He joked to Billboard that he may never release a ballad again.
“I think I’m sold on that. I think I’m gonna go from mid tempo to tempo from here on out. I’m sold on that philosophy. It’s been tremendous. I don’t know if I ever told myself that platinum was an important mile marker for me as an artist, but now that it’s associated with my name, it’s kind of like being Grammy-nominated. When someone introduces you, and they don’t mention being Grammy-nominated, you notice. I’m sure if they don’t include the platinum in there, I’ll take it personal,” he says, with his tongue planted firmly in-cheek.
On a more serious note, Nail said the timing was perfect for the single. “It came along at a time where sub-consciously I was searching for something to define what it was I wanted to do next. When I found it, the light came on, and there was a lot of, ‘This is what you have been missing, and this was the song you need’ being thrown around. When you hear that, it causes you to put the breaks on, because you have to be sure that it’s something that you can pull off. Once I got comfortable with the song, it was full steam ahead. I knew it was a special song from the first time that I heard it.”
Another special song on the album is the Southern Gothic-ish tragedy tale “The Secret.” Nail says he has gotten a ton of positive comments about the track. “It seems that a lot of people have been drawn to that song. It’s probably the one that we were the least confident about making the record. It’s a song that is probably five or six years old. It was definitely a song that we could have recorded for the second record. I’m pretty sure we never even entertained that. When it came time to record this record, it was just one of those that the A&R staff was aware of, and they always brought it up. Obviously, it’s a very deep song, and one that originated from a story I had experienced in my late teens. I lost a friend my freshman year in college. It was a very powerful moment, and the song took an immediate right turn and became something completely different. I’m very proud of it. It was the very first attempt I had at writing a story song.”
“I’m A Fire” features vocal cameos from Little Big Town on “When They’re Gone (Lyle County),” and the incomparable Lee Ann Womack, who adds some powerful harmonies to his cover of “Galveston.” Nail said that Womack was the perfect touch for the recording.
“Selfishly, it was my way of trying to pay respect to the music of Glen Campbell. Her daughter, Aubrie, sings on a song called ‘Brand New Day,’ and we were done with that song. Frank Liddell, my producer and Lee Ann’s husband, told me that Lee Ann had been listening to our version a lot, and was thinking about what she was going to do. Once she came into the studio heard Aubrie singing, a light went on, as if ‘I can’t let my daughter show me up!’ I don’t know that she sang anything differently than she had planned on. I wanted her to sing wherever she felt it fit. It’s such an impactful story, and one of my favorite songs. Lee Ann is such a stickler for the history of country music, and I felt that if we could do somewhat justice to the song, that she would agree to be a part of it. Luckily, she did!”