Michael Nesmith

Nevada Fighter

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Nevada Fighter kicks off with the witty and loose-limbed "The Grand Ennui," and for a moment it sounds like the album will pick up where Michael Nesmith's previous album with the First National Band, Loose Salute, left off. But before long, the album shifts gears, and it becomes obvious that Nesmith had something different in mind this time. Except for the rollicking side-closer, "Nevada Fighter," most of the material on side one suggests the more introspective moments of Magnetic South but without the same balance of charm and dry humor that made that album so appealing (though "Propinquity (I've Just Begun to Care)" is a fine love song that's a good bit more approachable than its title would lead you to expect). Side two is turned over to material by other songwriters, and while this shifts the album's lyrical tone rather dramatically, Nesmith reveals himself to be a fine interpretive vocalist, and "Texas Morning" and "The Rainmaker" are splendid songs that would merit anyone's attention. The First National Band were also augmented by a number of session musicians on Nevada Fighter (including James Burton and Ronn Tutt from Elvis Presley's band), and the arrangements have a decidedly different flavor than on Nesmith's previous two albums, especially in the second half (though Red Rhodes' pedal steel is predictably splendid throughout). Nevada Fighter is a fine album, but it's also the weakest of the three Nesmith would cut with the First National Band, and it's not hard to imagine that Nesmith was starting to look for new pastures while he was recording this set.

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