Single Review: David Nail, “The Sound of a Million Dreams”

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February 8, 2012

David Nail’s new single “The Sound of a Million Dreams,” from his current album of the same name, could be seen as something of a musical mission statement.  It is a tribute and testament to the power of a well-crafted, deeply resonant song.

Though the song references Bob Seger, Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run,” and Merle Haggard’s “Mama Tried,” it does so in a way that enhances the song’s meaning, as opposed to using such references as a crutch.  The narrator relates how such songs affect him emotionally, describing their ability to dredge up memories of his past – fond memories as well as painful ones.  The lyric begins on a light note, relating how Seger’s “Main Street” brings back pleasant memories of a former flame.  From there the song moves into deadly serious territory, as Nail looks back regretfully on the mistakes of his youth, saying that “When I hear ‘Mama Tried’ I still break down and cry and pull to the side of the road.”

Such thoughts and feelings move the singer to reflect on his own role as a musician, expressing the hope that “Maybe my voice will cut through the noise and stir up an old memory.”  The song squarely hits its target by using imagery that lends it a personal, relatable feel, with the narrator detailing how he personally is affected by the songs he has grown up with.  Perhaps the biggest thing the song gets right is that it taps into actual tangible emotions, as opposed to rudimentary, superficial details.

Though a portion of Nail’s past work has been marred by overproduction, such issues are nowhere to be found on this song.  Instead, we get a straightforward piano ballad with touches of steel guitar, which allows the song’s story to effectively resonate without needless distractions.  Nail for his part has already proven himself to be a gifted vocalist, but he has hardly sounded better than he does here.  Bolstered by a truly great lyric and a tasteful production, he shines with his strong, heartfelt, sincere performance.  Though he didn’t write the song himself (Scooter Carusoe and Phil Vassar did), Nail’s performance hints at a deep connection to the intent of the lyric.  The result ranks as easily Nail’s finest single to date, not to mention a shoo-in for my ‘Best of 2012′ list.

As he expresses in song the hope that his music will touch others in the same way that the music of his past has touched him, Nail reaches out to his listeners by putting all of himself into his performance, and in so doing, he just might have achieved that very goal.

Written by Scooter Carusoe and Phil Vassar

Grade:  A

Listen:  The Sound of a Million Dreams

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  1. Susan K.No Gravatar says:

    This is one of several well-written songs on this album by the same name. “Songs For Sale” is also a favorite of mine. I really like David Nail and am trying to ignore the reports I’ve read that he is kind of a jerk to his fans. While they sound credible, I like his music too much to let it get to me. Plus, I’ll never make any attempt see him in concert/in-person, so what does it matter?

  2. Susan K.No Gravatar says:

    I also think he sounds a bit like Hal Ketchum on this album.

  3. bobNo Gravatar says:

    Great song and great review. I just bought the album last week. If “The Sound of a Million Dreams” had been the lead single, I probably would have bought the cd sooner.

  4. Tara SeetharamNo Gravatar says:

    LOVE.

  5. Tara SeetharamNo Gravatar says:

    Btw, was this album released last year? How did I miss it?

  6. Dan MillikenNo Gravatar says:

    I’ve never been able to connect to the “songs about songs” genre (even really good ones like “The Song Remembers When” leave me a little cold), but this is definitely solid.

  7. Greg MNo Gravatar says:

    I really love this song, and after listening to it a lot, this song is kind of reminding me of Shedaisy’s Without a Sound, mainly because of the Piano accompaniment. I’ve been liking the stuff that David Nail has put out and might actually get this album.

  8. Matt WNo Gravatar says:

    This is just one of many reasons why David Nail is the best and next big person to enter the country music world. Whereas other singers choose to sing drinking song after drinking song or rural pride song after rural pride song, Nail doesn’t. He has an element of class that few other up and coming male singers in Nashville have (e.g. Luke Bryan, Eric Church, Justin Moore). Listen to his entire new album and there is not one reference to rural pride. Instead, he sings emotion packed songs such as this one. I can’t wait to see it hopefully get to the top of the charts.

  9. RowdyRedNo Gravatar says:

    He had me at “Seger.” Bob Seger holds a place of honor in my musical memories too. Going all the way back to “Night Moves,” I can read his lyrics music-free and still marvel at the beauty and power. Talk about having “the gift!”

    I’m elated to see Phil Vassar (my favorite country lyricist, for the same reason) attached to this composition. This is the sort of content that moves me. I’d gladly trade every one of the “Ain’t I Country?” hits that say NOTHING, for a return to this kind of writing. The aspirational singer-composer in this song is a complete 180 from the “Hell with all y’all” junk currently dominating the airwaves. I could really, truly, live the rest of my life in peace without hearing one more of those.

    David Nail has a soaring voice with great expressiveness. I didn’t listen to Phil’s own version yet (via YouTube through the “listen” link, above) though I intend to. But Phil must be very happy with David’s take on it. Really beautiful.

    Grade: A’s for everybody!!

  10. JoshNo Gravatar says:

    Hmmm. Surprised to hear the overwhelming positive response to this; it’s never done much for me. Reason being, I don’t really want to hear about how David Nail hopes the “sound of a million dreams” is emanating from his keyboard, I want to hear him play a song that actually does that. I thought “Let It Rain” and “Red Light” were much more coherent narratives with original imagery/narratives and more interesting melodic stuff going on.

    This kind of strikes me as a early 2000s Train ballad – which isn’t very surprising, given Pat Moneghan is David Nail’s favorite singer. I love Nail’s voice, but I like it much better when applied to rawer material with at least a tiny bit of country sound to it.

    If we’re talking recently released piano ballads, Kellie Pickler’s “Long As I Never See You Again” blows this out of the water, IMHO.

  11. ChadNo Gravatar says:

    Right now, this CD is $5 on amazon. Can’t speak for the album in its entirety…just picked it up myself

  12. MaryNo Gravatar says:

    I have been a fan of David Nails for a couple years now. There are not many CDs that I can put on and listen to every song straight through. Every song on this album is great especially #TSOAMD. I have met David Nail twice now and he is actually a pretty cool guy.

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