You learn something new every day so it’s said, so today I learnt a little about the art of carving or incising intricate designs on whalebone or whale ivory – Scrimshaw, Nel’s Andrew elaborates:
“In the 1800s, whaling voyages would last 3 years or longer; several weeks, sometimes months, could pass between Whale sightings. This gave the whalers a great deal more free time than other sailors of the day. Manuscripts were penned, and finely crafted stories were told in thin line on bone. I imagine it was the romantics, if forced to sea, who would take to whaling, finding somewhere to occasionally oust their courage between long bouts of contemplation, and rum. They probably also liked the rum.”
This is Nels’ third album and a self-released project, if memory serves me well I got his last album Off Track Betting via a giveaway at Americana UK and although that’s a fine release in itself this album is a real gem collectively it clocks in at a vinyl friendly 45 minutes and the nine tracks showcased are all top drawer, though not a themed album a seafaring thread does permeate several songs and the basic tracks for the album were recorded overlooking Naval docks at the Brooklyn Recording in NY. Melancholic and beautifully crafted with some lovely touches on the production creating a wonderfully moody album that’s a whole and not merely random songs thrown together, the songs demand attention – the details are thoughtful, subtle and never overstated, there’s some lovely pedal steel employed alongside acoustic guitar, banjo, mandolin, fuzzed out electric guitar and flute, with Raina Rose adding a some vocal support on Flotsam and Wisteria),
File under folk troubadour or barroom bard. Look out for details of a tour in the UK later this year.