Review – David Nail’s “Night’s On Fire”

David Nail is an artist who hasn’t had the most consistent success with his singles. The man has three top-ten singles under his belt, with “Let It Rain” topping the charts in 2011, and “Whatever She’s Got” getting to number 1 on the Country Airplay in 2013. But in between each top ten is a single release that didn’t clip the top 20. You can listen to his albums and tell that David Nail has the desire to make good music and not rely completely on mainstream trends. With Nail gearing up for a new album release, he’s dropped his first single from the forthcoming record with “Night’s on Fire.”

You can sort of guess what this song consists of: it’s a trendy song about nighttime love. Nail is driving his lady around on a Friday night until she’s ready to pull over and steam up the windows. Writers Jonathan Singleton and Deric Ruttan do offer more descriptions of the night than what you’d find in a Florida Georgia Line song with lines like: “Sunset melts all the blue away, blackbird watching on the telephone wire” or “River of stars close enough to touch.” The other good thing you could say about the song is that there’s no mention of the cornfield or backwoods, per say. The only description of the location we have is “off the highway.” The production, however, relies a bit too much on the modern trends. Firstly, I find the “oh oh oh’s” throughout the song to be quite obnoxious. It gives the song a heavy pop feel and reminds me quite a bit of Hunter Hayes’ “21.” Toss in a second verse that adds in overproduced musical effects behind Nail’s vocals and “Night’s on Fire” becomes a full-fledged pop song.

“Night’s on Fire” just sounds too familiar and too unoriginal. There’s a bit more effort in the writing to describe the night more than what’s happening in the parked truck off the highway, but the song is very much another anthem about hooking up with someone in the truck on a summer Friday night. Nail’s vocals are good here, and he sings the song well enough to relay the passion and excitement back to listener. However, it’s just not enough to make an overdone story sound fresh. “Night’s on Fire” is just too common a song. Hopefully it’s only an attention gainer for his album.

Grade: 4/10

6 thoughts on “Review – David Nail’s “Night’s On Fire”

  1. Raymond August 3, 2015 / 1:38 pm

    I guess this can enter guilty pleasure status. Seriously remove the Ohs and you have a fairly good pop-country song. However I’m still looking forward to his album. I’m A Fire I found to be good but ” The Sound If A Million Dreams” is a masterpiece particularly the title track. I’m now cautiously optimistic.

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  2. Annie Dineen August 3, 2015 / 1:43 pm

    Well said! David has so much potential to be a mind-blowing artist but, to my mind, feels too pressured by trends. I’m sure his label wouldn’t be thrilled if he shirked #1 seeking to chase artistry as well. As Raymond said… cautiously optimistic.

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  3. Megan Conley August 3, 2015 / 1:53 pm

    Well said…the “oh oh ohs” really bring this song down for me. Otherwise it wouldn’t be all that bad.

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  4. Kevin Davis August 3, 2015 / 2:27 pm

    In a world where Dallas Davidson never wrote a hit song, we could maybe appreciate this song better. But that world doesn’t exist. The lyrics are, as Derek notes, above par and avoids some of the most gratuitous offenses in bro-country. But, it is still disappointing, and the “oh oh’s” are definitely contrived to achieve the maximum pop singability.

    I agree with Annie that Nail is too pressured by the trends. Yet, I also agree with Raymond that this can still be categorized as “guilty pleasure.” Using Josh’s ranking system, I would probably give this a 0 instead of a -1. On a ten point scale, I would give it a 6. You have to admit that it’s got a nice chorus.

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    • Derek Hudgin August 3, 2015 / 2:45 pm

      Yeah, this song is definitely tainted due to the onslaught of songs that came before it. And I do like the chorus. I think the descriptions are good there, and it’s catchy. I thought about giving this a score closer to 5 so it would reach that 0 threshold, but it was just too pop for my taste. The inclusion of the “oh oh’s” kill this song.

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  5. Nadia Lockheart August 3, 2015 / 5:01 pm

    The overproduction is what ultimately renders this toothless and forgettable.

    *

    Firstly, the vibe I get from this track is that they’re deliberately trying to deliver “Whatever She’s Got II”. I read that immediately through 1) the heavy use of sonics more consistent with pop music, 2) sprinkling some token banjo over that thick coat of gloss, 3) a blend of reverb and subtle Auto-Tune applied to Nail’s vocals and 4) the undulating flow of the lyrics in the big chorus.

    Now, I didn’t like “Whatever She’s Got” in the first place. I’ll admit it is absolutely effective as an earworm, but the song itself is actually kind of repulsive lyrically in that it’s mostly about Nail trying to get into a woman’s pants and, much worse still, the way he describes her is hardly flattering. I mean, is it supposed to be a compliment when you’re saying that she’ll make her mind up just to change it, keeps you waiting around, warning she’s sunny one moment then pouring down rain, etc. Yeah, okey-dokey! 😉

    Still, it was an unmistakable smash and I can completely understand why they wanted to Xerox that winning formula for his new single. It was at least catchy.

    *

    But here’s where I am predicting this isn’t going to be as impactful as “Whatever She’s Got” from a hook-based standpoint.

    With “Whatever She’s Got”, as flawed as it was, there was more breathing space to its arrangement. I may not have liked the electronic beat that drove the verses, but at least it complimented them somewhat. And as manipulated as they were, the token banjo and mandolin still stood out in the mix and crucially gave the hit some much-needed flavor that anything Thomas Rhett and Chase Rice have released to date have completely lacked.

    Also, as shallow and unflattering as the song is lyrically, Nail does his level best to try and make the listener care or reconsider. There’s an emotional gravity to his delivery that can’t help but settle on you somewhat, and that’s underscored in the coda of the song where he adds: “She’s a little bit complicated, that’s alright………….doesn’t matter I’ll keep on waiting…”………………..and that open-endedness I’d argue actually works in adding a pinch of urgency to a mostly pedestrian track in that it is realized Nail’s efforts waiting for her may be met in vain.

    *

    With “Night’s On Fire”, in contrast, it lacks any sort of build-up and comes across as flat terrain throughout.

    The hip-hop beat that drives the verses adds nothing to them other than to prove Nail’s on tempo. Other than faint acoustic plucking buried deeper in the mix, there’s nothing added until you get some odd dubstep-like wubs in the second half of the opening verse. Then, BAM: EVERYTHING is shoved to the front of the mix in a wall-of-sound fervor.

    But, emotionally, “Night’s On Fire” is anti-climatic to my ears. The “Whoa oh ohs!” don’t help matters in that they render songs more cartoonish than anything these days, and Nail doesn’t up the urgency in his singing through the final chorus. Then, my ears couldn’t help but note how abruptly the song ends without warning, whereas “Whatever She’s Got” fades out allowing the open-endedness of its ending to sink in.

    *

    I’d argue the lyrics are the strongest aspect of this song.

    This song is about losing your virginity, or a “first time” as some would call it. And I do think Nail’s earnest vocals do fit the tone here right. Because there’s a lot of emotional uncertainty and complexity surrounding this sort of experience in that, while you feel in heart it will be an enjoyable experience, you also are making yourself especially vulnerable and are hoping everything works out. The lyrics are unmistakably upbeat, but I don’t think Nail’s vocals get in the way because this kind of experience is a big deal that doesn’t happen twice.

    But that’s also what makes this a frustrating listen. I’d argue Nail kind of undersells this toward the end equally as much as the producers. Because as bracing as the lyrics truly are with lyrics like “Like a shot from a gun, it’s a dead run, the first leg of a getaway plan..”………………you’d figure they’d have elements that actually bring that urgency to life. Instead, I just can’t help but feel they sell themselves short here.

    *

    In the end, “Night’s On Fire” is certainly a lyrical improvement over “Whatever She’s Got”, and also stands out better than most efforts being trotted out by male A and B-listers in the meantime.

    But I’m hesitant to argue this is better than “Whatever She’s Got” as a whole because it lacks that extra “Oomph!” that that song had. And on its own merit, this song has a good idea going for it but just doesn’t execute it as well as it really ought to.

    I’m thinking a 5/10 for this. I do think they do enough to warrant a 0 score, but just kind of settle for too little as well.

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