rew Nelson, conceivably one of Canada’s most criminally underrated musicians, is back with his first album in eight years and a renewed determination to reignite a successful career that he had almost turned his back on in the past few years. The Ottawa based singer/songwriter/guitarist decided to focus on domestic life for a while after many years of playing 200-plus dates. “I grew tired of the constant travel but after a while I began to miss doing the thing I love and am good at,” says Nelson.
Steve Marriner, the multi-talented and energetic front man of the Juno Award winning trio Monkey Junk had also been thinking that it was time for Nelson to return to the spotlight. The younger Marriner had often been invited on stage to perform with Nelson and his band and felt it was time to help reinvigorate his career.
The two talked for several months and it was agreed that Marriner should produce the new project. The death of Nelson’s father was a pivotal event. “I had been stressed for months and then it was over,” says Nelson, “I knew my Dad would have wanted me to move forward.” At Marriner’s urging, Nelson began writing some new songs, dusting off a couple of old ones and the two got together to do some writing. The result is The Other Side, a polished 11-track album of blues/roots songs of heartache, redemption and love.
Influenced by rock & roll and Chicago blues, Nelson began his career at age 16. In his early twenties he co-founded a group with the late harmonica legend Back Alley John. In 1989 he launched The Drew Nelson Band and won over audiences and critics across the country. He became widely known for his slide guitar playing, gritty vocals and well-crafted songs. Nelson organized tours and recorded with the late Canadian blues pioneer Dutch Mason and has shared the stage with artists including B.B. King, Bo Diddley, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Buddy Guy and others.
Each of the 11 songs on The Other Side showcase Nelson’s mastery of the guitar, beautiful, poignant and often hard-hitting lyrics, gruff vocals and a sense that Nelson himself may be the protagonist in the tales within. Opening with a rare and catchy Bob Dylan tune called “Seven Days”, followed by the lively “Make It Right”, a stunning rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Bird On The Wire” is a highlight, “Please Come Home”, one of the more bluesy numbers, features Marriner on the harmonica, “Get It!” is a barn-burning rocking blues track that was written on the spot and recorded in one, glorious take. “The Other Side” is a tribute to Nelson’s late father, questioning life and death and everything in between.
The Other Side is a genre-bending musical narrative that marks Drew Nelson’s triumphant return to the music scene containing all of the ingredients to instantly become a Canadian roots and blues classic.
Sarah French Publicity