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Drew Nelson

Tilt-A Whirl

(Red House; US: 14 Feb 2012; UK: 12 Mar 2012)

Built from the same sturdy material as Steve Earle and James McMurtry, the music of Michigan native Drew Nelson didn’t become a favorite of the mighty John Gorka by accident. His songs are cut from the same cloth as those artists, but he lends a new dimension to the folk/Americana tradition, a voice that proves the concerns of past generations are very much alive and cleaving to our very souls. “Dust” deals with the kind of down-and-out working man we would have hoped never had to struggle again after the curtain fell on the Reagan years. “Lessons” is a portrait of everytown that could easily be a sketch of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula or the western corner of Kansas. “Here to There” is bound to make Chris Smither proud and “Danny and Maria” will no doubt garner Springsteen comparisons in the future––but it’s the kind of song that The Boss wishes he could write: honest, direct, and unencumbered by the compromises that chart-topping ambition brings.


Jedd Beaudoin is an award-winning writer and broadcaster. He holds an MFA in creative writing (fiction) from Wichita State University and hosts Strange Currency six nights week for Wichita Public Radio. His writing has appeared in No Depression and The Crab Orchard Review as well as at websites such as and

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