It was only after moving to the desert that Nels Andrews began writing about the sea. Not all his songs have nautical themes but it is plain from the recurring oceanic metaphors that his thoughts are never far from the shore. This is presumably why he now lives in Santa Cruz, California.
In Easter Poison Oak he finds himself "caught between the tides" and in other songs there are references to brine, driftwood and even shipwrecks.
A continuity and consistency in Andrews' music making is suggested by one song, Scrimshaw, named after the art of carving on whalebone and also the word used as the title of his 2012 album.
From the allusions to passing seasons and new generations we can also intuit that he is preoccupied with aging. In Embassy To The Airport he sings of "the steps we take backwards to find the things we've lost."
Nevertheless, precise meanings are always elusive as these are not songs that give away their secrets easily. The lyrics are cryptic and rich with poetic imagery, as exemplified by the opening line from the title track: "Moonstone, amber, malachite/ go feral in the fading light".
The wide range of mainly acoustic instruments include cello, violin, mandolin, kora and steel drums and these add to the warmth and beauty of the sound. There are guest appearances from fellow songsmiths Anaïs Mitchell, AJ Roach, and Anthony Da Costa. The record, produced by traditional Irish flautist Nuala Kennedy, ebbs and flows exquisitely.
There is a calm serenity to these impressionistic story songs which have the pulse of a Celtic heartbeat.
Nels Andrews' website