Dusty Road to Beulah Land is a wonderful project by a gritty voiced singer, who has become a very masterful storyteller, as well as a writer of very good songs. This is Drew Nelson's second full-length disc and the growth is strong and even on all sides; that is the music, the storytelling, the singing in his warm sandy voice, and the song-craft have all grown equally and stay in balance. He has that wonderful knack for seeing things and using the 'voice' of the person whose life is reflected in the song; be it the farmer in Farmer's Lament, Native American life in Raindance and Grandmother Moon, or the confused former worker in Stranger who is in a dead end job at Home Depot who is struggling to feed his family while there is astronomic amounts of bailout money being tossed around. The human focal points of his stories may have hit hard times in many different ways and there are at times anger and maybe confusion, but they are never beaten or defeated.
He has assembled a good crew of musicians and players around him for this recording who give him the support and room he needs to spin his tales effectively. The music is basically folk with touches of bluegrass and blues thrown in and certainly always played with a verve that keeps it interesting. The ten songs are his compositions though Raindance is co-written with Whitley Hill Setrakian. Nelson plays acoustic guitar and mandolin as well as handling all the lead vocals; this is the type of effort and performance that one expects from a much more seasoned performer. A very solid disc and worth the effort to find it.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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