During the making of his fourth MCA Nashville album, David Nail underwent a transformation – and so did his music. Fighter is the most vulnerable, personal record the Missouri native has ever made, and it signals the beginning of a new phase in his career. Following the birth of he and wife Catherine's long-hoped-for children (twins born in December 2015), the singer-songwriter found his world turned upside down.
The mark he wanted to leave and things he wanted to say had changed, and despite an early version of Fighter being already finished, he decided to record four new songs, completely changing the project's tone. In short, Nail decided to get real in a way he never would have allowed himself before. Already known for powerful, emotionally-charged vocals, he took the same approach to choosing Fighter's 11 tracks (seven of which were written or co-written by Nail himself), celebrating life's victories but also exposing the knock-downs he's endured.
Writing and singing in courageous personal detail, Nail confronted some of his deepest troubles, revealing the clarity he's achieved about his hometown, the true struggle depression caused in his marriage, the answered-prayer of his children's birth and the things he never told his own father. Meanwhile, producer Frank Liddell (who also guided Nail's first three albums, I'm About to Come Alive, The Sound of a Million Dreams and I'm a Fire) made sure Fighter's musical tone was just as authentic, backing Nail's volcanic vocals with a melting pot of Mississippi-delta sounds – a mix of classic-country balladry and sweaty Memphis soul, with touches of in-the-moment modernity sprinkled throughout.
Big-name collaborations abound, with Nail inviting Vince Gill, Brothers Osborne, Lori McKenna and Logan Brill to help tell his story, as well as Bear and Bo Rinehart of Needtobreathe. Brothers Osborne kick the project off in star-crossed revelry on "Good at Tonight," McKenna joins "Home" to quietly uncover Nail's love/hate relationship with his hometown, Gill adds stunning harmony vocals to the country-soul "I Won't Let You Go" – a promise to David's wife Catherine – and the Rineharts help close the album in tender admiration with "Old Man's Symphony," an overdue thank-you note to Nail's dad.
Along the way, he toasts to the passion of youth in the upbeat hit "Night's On Fire," pledges romantic relief in the raw Chris Stapleton co-write "Ease Your Pain," delivers a desperate double entendre in the indie-rocking "Lie With Me" and crafts a loving, rock-a-bye origin story for his new family in "Babies" – an instant classic. Then there's the project's title track, "Fighter," a heartfelt ‘80s-country throwback ripped from Nail's real life that holds his wife up as an unshakable supporter – even when he was at his worst.