Live Oak (Open Nine Music)
Reviewed by Doug Freeman, Fri., Aug. 10, 2018
Jeremy Nail's 2016 sophomore effort My Mountain rose resilient in a comeback from the cancer that took his leg, but third LP Live Oak rings reflective. Stripped-down production leaves focus heavy on Nail's gentle vocals and heavy meditations, no less defiant but wrapped in having faced mortality. There's wonder ("Abiquiu"), resilience ("Live Oak"), and searching ("Other Side of Time") in the journey. Yet Live Oak never strikes solipsistic, instead offering solace and strength through acceptance. The mellow groove of Bukka Allen's keys on "Rolling Dice" bolsters the sharp sting of Jeremy Menking's lap steel, while "Hope and Fear" unfurls with clear resolve and "So Long, Yesterday" gorgeously waltzes away memory. "I haven't made it to the mountaintop, I'm learning to live with what I've got" muses closer "Till Kingdom Come." Live Oak finds Jeremy Nail shedding skin, letting go to find something more.