Jory Nash,
Tangle with the Ghost
(Thin Man Records, 2000)

Fans of Jory Nash will be nothing but pleased with his second outing, Tangle with the Ghost, as much of what made Nash's first CD so enjoyable has been honed and polished. Nash, a Canadian contemporary folk artist, shines on this CD; the variety of influences that marked his first CD are just as evident here, ranging from roots and country rock to R&B and jazz, all strongly rooted in traditional Appalachian balladry.

Track one, "Love No More," is a beautiful example of Nash's talented finger-picked guitar work, as well as his smooth, resonant voice. The layered vocals in the midst of the track create added depth and dimension to the piece, echoing the intricate guitar melodies. "The Acoustic In-Between" stands out as one of the more up-tempo tracks, with the catchy title and all that is implied with the title and strong lyrics. On the title track, Lori Cullen's harmonies meld beautifully with Nash's voice. However, if I had to name one song on the CD that is the most representative of Nash as a performer, it's "So Much Larger than Life." To me, this track does the best job of capturing "Jory Nash" as a singer-songwriter.

Despite Nash's ability to meld many different musical styles into his own version of contemporary folk music, it's his skill with traditional ballads that makes this CD well worth your money. "Prisoner's Lament" is full of storytelling grace; Nash's voice subtly captures every nuance of the story. "I am a Rambling Boy" marks a departure from Nash's previous music, with a haunting piano arrangement by Ari Posner. "Seven Lions" moves back into the folk arena, reminding me, both in lyrics and delivery, of Bob Dylan.

In fact, much of Nash's growth here in evident in his sometimes light-hearted, yet always introspective stream-of-consciousness word play. Listeners acquainted with Nash will also notice another difference on this CD, or at least on the cover and inside photos -- with one exception, there's not a single picture of Jory Nash in a hat! (People who've read Nash's bio or seen him in concert will verify that Nash owns an extensive collection of hats and normally wears one everywhere).

Nash is again backed by talented musicians, several of whom played on the first CD. Tangle with the Ghost features Jason Fowler on lead acoustic, electric/slide guitars, National resonator guitar and mandolin; Ari Posner on piano, keyboards and accordion; Peter Murray on bass; Gavin Brown on percussion; Marty Stelnick on harmonica; and Michael Holt on Hammond organ. The musicianship amply supports Nash's lyrics and serves to round out the CD with fuller songs than those just featuring Nash and his guitar.

Overall, this CD is another enjoyable effort from Nash. It's interesting to look at how different some of the songs are from his previous recording, One Way Down. I've enjoyed listening to Jory Nash refine his abilities, as evident here on Tangle with the Ghost, and I look forward to seeing what's next in store for his listeners. If you're curious as well, then check out his website.

[ by Audrey M. Clark ]