Whalen Nash’s solo debut album, This Cowboy Came From Baltimore, will be released on vinyl by Atticus Records in September. The album features ten Nash originals that flirt with the conflicting notions of sincerity and parody, the paradoxical pull of wanderlust and the longing for roots, and the emotional tension between the security of a loving relationship and the uncertainty of separation.
Born and raised in Baltimore, Whalen Nash has had an on again, off again relationship with his home town. His life path has alternately found him getting as far away from Baltimore as he could, only to return home time and again. These days Nash splits his time between Baltimore and his recently adopted second home town of Austin where This Cowboy Came From Baltimore was recorded.
Produced by Atticus Records recording artist, Stephen Doster at EAR Studios in Austin, Nash’s hopeless wanderlust and contradictory yearning for roots fuels the imaginary lives of the people and places that populate his folksy, largely acoustic solo debut. In many ways, This Cowboy Came From Baltimore is Nash’s attempt to synthesize the inescapable influence of his Baltimore roots with the revitalizing creative energy that his move to Austin generated.
Doster’s production vision for This Cowboy Came From Baltimore called for lean arrangements and spare acoustic instrumentation, which put Nash’s world weary lyrics and sardonic story songs front and center. Like the dying cowboy in the titular track whose final wish is for his body to be returned home for burial, Nash’s characters seems to run out of time before actually finding the home that their interminable wanderlust promises but never seems to deliver.
Nash’s characters have a deep desire to control their destiny, yet ultimately feel that such control is beyond their grasp. Whether the skeptical sinner in “The Chosen Few” who doubts the eternal promises of the rapture, or the weary dreamer who wants to have the final word on his personal history in “Have My Say,” Nash’s characters have an uneasy relationship with life itself. They attempt to tenuously negotiate with the uneasy terms that life deals them, yet, they heroically continue to seek the redemption that seems to evade their grasp.
Nash writes his protagonists as existential heroes who wear their hard won life scars in plain view, while navigating the psychic space between confident pride and reluctant shame. The songs on This Cowboy Came From Baltimore are populated by burned lovers and fatigued dreamers who, despite having lost time and again at life and love, continue to reach for heaven even though they may remain dubious of its promise. For lovers of fine storytelling in song, This Cowboy Came From Baltimore is the kind of record that pays dividends for listeners who invest the time.