We’ve had the appetizers; now here’s the main course. The Nadas new album, Come Along For The Ride is a sunny, summery, Americana triumph
Release Date: 11th August 2023
Label: Authentic Records
Formats: CD, Vinyl, Download, Streaming
Like all good appetizers, the album’s first two singles – Other Side Of The 45 and title track, Come Along For The Ride – made our tongues sparkle in anticipation of the main course: Come Along for the Ride, the new album from Iowa-based Americana specialists, The Nadas. Well – that main course is here at last and, you’ll no doubt be pleased to hear, it lives up entirely to the feast that was promised by those advance morsels.
To recap: The Nadas came into being some 30 years ago, when Mike and Jason Walsmith, still the band’s beating heart today, decided to alleviate the boredom of their days at Iowa State University by jamming and harmonizing together. The Nadas grew from that brotherly embryo and today the band consists of Mike and Jason, plus Brian Duffey on bass, drummer Brandon Stone and Perry Ross on keyboards, guitar and percussion. During the course of that durable career, the band has shifted over 250,000 units and has toured with the likes of The Beach Boys, America, Bon Jovi and Huey Lewis.
The Nadas’ melodic brand of Americana – mixed with a healthy dose of 90s alt-rock – has drawn comparisons with Stones-era ‘Country Honk,’ with traces of Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen and REM all readily evident, and that heady concoction is fairly descriptive of the fare on offer on Come Along For The Ride.
We start on familiar territory with the album’s first single, the still-stunning Other Side of the 45. Billed as “A message to the younger generations of musicians who are leaving the garage and hitting the road in the van to play shows,” …45 is a wonderful, rootsy, rocker, awash with swirling organ and slide guitar, driven along by a solid throbbing bass, and packed with sound lyrical advice to any aspiring road musician. If I may suggest – it’s probably one of the songs of 2023!
Things get considerably more intimate with Still Getting Used To It All, a quieter song with acoustic guitars and piano leading the way, but it’s not without its breezy moments, and the shuffling drums and vocal harmonies are spot-on. The wonderful Recovery – an early favourite on an album packed with great songs – is built upon a slow, considered Hang On Sloopy-like bassline. The song’s soft verses and raucous chorus are beautifully punctuated by delicious chiming guitar licks that allow the song to reach for – and almost touch – the sky.
Something of an earworm, the punchy All Fired Up is an understated, yet irresistible, rocker. There are great harmony vocals both in the verses and the chorus and the pedal steel announces its presence as it soars and swoops behind the song’s driving rhythm.
Chiming guitar and swirling organ combine nicely in the REM-like 18th and Center Street, a gentle song with an “I love my neighbour” theme and the influence of REM also pervades the album’s title track. The second of the album’s two already-available singles, it’s another classic road song, drenched in jangly guitars and lush vocal harmonies, and I absolutely LOVE the pedal steel licks that elevate the song to something really, really special. As I remarked in my review of single just a couple of weeks ago:
Come Along For The Ride is a classic road song that easily captures the feeling of driving along a coastal freeway on a summer’s day, with the soft-top down and the radio blasting. And that’s the very situation that inspired the song, as Jason Walsmith explains: “My wife and I have done 150,000 miles in the past couple of years while the band has been taking it easy. The simple pleasure of slowing down and enjoying traveling with a partner is, hopefully, adequately portrayed in this song.” It sure is, Jason – it comes over loud and clear!
And, if anything, things get even better for the galloping One Thing At ATime. The song starts life as a slow, folky, acoustic number, before somebody whips the horses The lyrics include lines like: “I’ve tried all the tricks – I can’t get to sleep/ Camomile and cannabis and counting all the sheep,” whilst, all the while, the pedal steel weeps and wails and the guitars break into some wonderfully assured soloing.
Emma Butterworth and Mitchell Walsmith – respective offspring of past and present band members – join the fun for No Longer Apart, by far the tenderest and most sentimental song on the album. It’s a slowish ballad and the two guests both step comfortably into the vocal spotlight – and the sentimentalism is perfectly in context with the album.
Like all good albums, Come Along For The Ride ends on one of its highest notes – with the gritty ballad This Mess is My Masterpiece – the current single. Another song with a flavour of REM, it’s just about perfect in every respect – vocally, lyrically and instrumentally. The lyrics deal with the pace of modern life and its post-COVID leap into hyper-drive. Bass and drums provide a restrained propulsion, the band simmer and churn and, when called upon, the lead guitar stuns as it soars. It’s an inspiring end to an excellent album. Come Along For The Ride has definitely been worth the wait – it’s a sunny, summery Americana triumph. Nadas – we love you.
Watch the official video to Come Along For The Ride – the album’s title track and second single – here: