Show Reviews



w/ Karissa Ella

Thursday November 9, 2023

@ The Franklin Theatre in Franklin, TN

(Review Written By: Jeffrey Kurtis)

Though the City of Franklin has experienced booming growth over the past decade, their historic downtown district has swerved the hustle and bustle of what’s been swirling all around it, maintaining its small-town atmosphere through the flare of independent specialty shops, renowned eateries, and an overall aura that feels as if its lifted straight out of a Hallmark movie.

At its center point sits The Franklin Theatre; a picture house that originally opened in 1937 and was fully restored to its original glory in 2011, becoming the heartbeat of downtown Franklin with a busy calendar chalk full of a variety of films, live theatre, and top of the line concert performances.

Taking over the stage in front of a sold-out crowd, multi-platinum singer/songwriter David Nail delivered his several recognizable hits, a look at his most current output, personal favorites from his catalog, and a night of transparently woven honesty through his lyrics and impeccable vocal prowess, wowing with each turn of the phrase as he allowed his voice to captivate the crowd line by line.

Karissa Ella, a very familiar face to David Nail’s fanbase from her time spent opening dates on his ‘Story To Tell Tour,’ used her 30-minute opening position as a showcase of her powerhouse vocals and their incredible range, gliding through a snapshot of her budding career.

While the bouncy flare of the summertime sway embedded opener “Vacay” travelled back to her very beginnings, and the stunning “Whiskey Whispers Your Name” saw her softening the pace to tug heartstrings, Karissa’s majority focus placed on the here and now with a dash of what comes next.

Pulling from her newest EP, It’s Personal, she hit nostalgic vibes with the reminiscing “Vintage” and the poetically crafted ode to her Ohio hometown, “I Hope Heaven’s Like,” while shrugging her shoulders in a Que Sera, Sera fashion when she closed her set with the ultra-catchy, “Well Tequila,” eliciting rousing cheers from the country loving crowd when she sang through the chorus of the effects that the favorited beverage has on her, unashamedly admitting how a couple sips will get her “dancin’ round like I'm a Grand Ole Opry star.”

With a naturally built girl next door confidence to her tone, it made perfect sense that a stamping point of her set arrived through a melding of Aretha Franklin’s “Chain of Fools” and Dolly Parton’s “Jolene,” both which ignited the crowd as she highlighted the vinyl records that influenced her growing up years through two of the songs that made the most impact on her.

However, it was when she slid her voice to its sassiest edge to leave the crowd with a piece of things still to come that she held the entire venue in the palm of her hand, performing “New Boots, Old Dirt” with a pop to her hips as she drove through the Shania twanged, 90’s country spurred kiss-off, fueling the females in the audience to make a ruckus as she twisted through clever, boot referenced lines, “I ain’t draggin’ these new boots through old dirt for you…they’re looking too good to get scuffed up by you,” etc.

Completely humble and wearing a soft smile on his face as an overwhelming showering of applause engulfed the entire theatre from the crowd of family, friends, and longtime fans, David Nail took his seat at center stage as his adopted hometown gave him a hero’s welcome when he kicked into his hour and a half set with “The Sound of A Million Dreams” and “That’s How I’ll Remember You,” both which immediately hushed the noise to a total silence as his incredibly gifted voice circled the venue and tugged everyone into his memory bank, carrying the proper emotional tilts to fully encompass the power of a great song.

Without much talking throughout the night, something which he would even joke about several times by saying that he was going to try not to do too much of, Nail offered a full spectrum look at who he is over his 15 song set, delivering selections from each of his 4 albums as well as several pieces of his current resurgence to paint the perfect picture of where he came from to get to where he’s at.

The familiar hits early in his set, “Night’s On Fire” “Kiss You Tonight,” and “Red Light,” the latter which induced a vibey, version from his backing band The Well Ravens that allowed plenty of room for each individual to shine within their respective instruments, naturally saw the audience lending their voices in perfect harmony. However, it was at the midway point that David reached a heightened comfort zone and stunned the unsuspecting audience, gripping their heartstrings.

After telling of the juxtaposition faced as an artist early in his career between playing originals or playing cover songs, and then telling of an appearance on the Bobby Bones Show where he was asked to play a cover after many years of sticking with originals, you could literally hear a pin drop as he lifted his voice into Elvis Presley’s very prolific, “In The Ghetto,” pulling influence from the original but allowing it to come into his own soulfulness to add a unique quality to the poignant lyrics that still resonate with the scope of the world today, fifty-four years after the songs original release.  

With a medley of favorite album cuts, “Songs For Sale,” “Brand New Day,” and “Strangers On A Train,” followed by his uber popular 2022 release “Sunset Carousel,” Nail launched into the second half of his set with several throughout the crowd singing along with every word in what was an audible showcase of how deep their support level runs for one of country music’s most talented.

Masterfully playing off the unbridled admiration echoing throughout the theatre, “Let It Rain” kept everyone enthusiastically singing along as Nail closed his eyes and leaned back from the microphone several times just to soak it all in.

Bringing us to his small hometown of Kennett, Missouri, sharing how much of his heart is still there even though he knew he had to leave to pursue his music dream, Nail lamented that he’d go back there now if he could as he then gave the crowd a look behind the curtain of the writing session for “Home” as the opening notes began to reverberate.

Throughout the heartfelt performance that closed his initial set, David clearly transported back to his growing up years mentally while skillfully allowing the words to resonate a picture of what used to be as the audience journeyed back to their own hometown’s and relived their shoebox full of Polaroid memories.

After a moment with only David’s logo fixed on the glowing screen and the applause continually growing to a deafening level, band leader Reed Pittman emerged on stage as he opened the 3-song encore set, just he and his piano, with his prayer-like original “Ask Your Father.”

Though he had talked some throughout the entire night, allowing his incredible humorous side to show up many times while opening his diary to invite us in, David wore his heart on his sleeve when he dug into the deeper emotion of what it truly means to him, his wife, and his family to have a song in his catalog that changed his/their life; absolutely accenting his career trajectory, but more so, opening up on the struggles that they had been faced with and telling how the success of “Whatever She’s Got” helped alleviate them.

“This sounds so much better if you sing it with me,” he enthusiastically exclaimed ahead of the final chorus of the song, as he then  leaned back from the microphone to allow the entire crowd to take the spotlight in their lead vocalist role in a snapshot moment that solidified the connection felt between Nail and the sold-out crowd, before he’d close the set with a beautiful rendition of “Old Man’s Symphony.”

As the country music genre stays in constant motion, filtering into it new outside influences that are changing the overall dynamic of the defining sound of the genre, as the old saying goes, “the cream will always rise to the top.”

David Nail has risen to the top of the charts already in his career, and as he further opens this next chapter, he is continuing to find the right lyrics, the right moods, and the right vibes to highlight what is arguably one of the best voices in country music as he takes all of his signature feels, stretches them to the edge of his comfort zone, and elevates to amazing new heights.

This performance was a perfectly laid out scrapbook that showed all that he’s accomplished, why he’s so renowned amongst the country music faithful, and how gifted of a vocalist, writer, and performer he truly is, as he gratefully leaned on what has already been written as the rest of his story is still unfolding in the here and now!


1) The Sound Of A Million Dreams

2) That’s How I’ll Remember You

3) Night’s On Fire

4) Red Light

5) Comeback History

6) Kiss You Tonight

7) In The Ghetto (Elvis Presley Cover)

8) Songs For Sale, Brand New Day, Strangers On A Train (Medley)

9) Sunset Carousel

10) Forgiveness

11) Let It Rain

12) Home

13) Ask Your Father (performed by: Reed Pittman)

14) Whatever She’s Got

15) Old Man’s Symphony


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