EXCLUSIVE: Nathan Bell Premieres Powerful New Video for "Names"
Few singer-songwriters are willing to tell the unvarnished truth in stories about real people that resonate for real people. Tennessee-based Nathan Bell is one of them. He isn‚Äôt in it for the money or the fame. He‚Äôs in it to play fingerstyle acoustic guitar to songs about people who work hard to pay the bills and provide for their families. He's also in it to sing about social and political issues that matter to him.
"Names‚ÄĚ is a song that combines all of those passions, and Acoustic Guitar is proud today to be premiering its video, directed by filmmaker Anthony Sims (The Day After Stonewall Died). "Names" comes from Bell‚Äôs latest album Blood Like A River, which AG‚Äôs Pat Moran reviewed in the March issue.
Moran writes: ‚ÄúBell‚Äôs rustic voice, which couples the grain of the Band‚Äôs Levon Helm with the gruff troubadour‚Äôs lilt of Kris Kristofferson, lays bare lives on the hardscrabble margin: The perpetual motion of a jittery Everyman in ‚ÄėTurn Out the Lights,‚Äô young service men and women reduced to a handful of names in ‚ÄėNames,‚Äô the ordinary heroism of choosing to love in ‚ÄėReally Truly,‚Äô and Bell‚Äôs own encounter with a desperate gunman in the autobiographical ‚ÄėTrigger.‚Äô ‚Ä¶ [He] documents an America teetering on the edge. Yet he leavens this view with wonder, gratitude, and compassion.‚ÄĚ
For the album, Bell does his fingerstyle playing on a Larriv√©e OM-3, but also plays a 1967 Gibson LG-0 (seen in the video), and, particularly for this song, a Lanikai 8-string baritone uke. "I used the Gibson for the video because, frankly, it looked the coolest," Bell says. (Hey, we agree.)
In the early 1990s, after releasing two progressive bluegrass albums for Flying Fish Records with his then-wife Susan Shore as Bell & Shore (El Ranko Motel and Little Movies), Bell walked away from the music business because he didn‚Äôt much like the "business" part. He got a straight job, started a family, then got the music itch again. He began putting out records on his own, beginning with 2007‚Äôs In Tune, On Time, Not Dead, and hitting his stride with the terrific Black Crow Blue, in 2011, on Stone Barn Records, the indie label of guitarist Craig Bickhardt. With six independent albums under his belt now, Bell has proved himself fully capable of successfully working outside of the ‚Äúbusiness‚ÄĚ part of music.