Daniel Nestlerode is a singer and songwriter and mandolinist, born in Pennsylvania, who later moved to California to pursue a musical career. He relocated to Cambridge (UK) after marrying, and for the past four years he’s built himself a steady reputation in Americana circles, with well-received spots at festivals including Ely (2015) in tandem with guitarist Paul Ballantyne, who appears on four of the tracks on Almost Home, Daniel’s second full-length collection.
If your bag is unpretentiously well-played, well-sung, accessible Americana, both traditional and contemporary, then you can’t go wrong with Daniel’s music. Almost Home brings us Daniel’s passionate, forthright interpretations of five well-loved items (songs Wayfaring Stranger and Shenandoah, Stephen Foster’s Hard Times and a couple of pairs of tunes) and five of his own original songs. The latter range companionably from the gently uptempo yet meditative Here And Now and the Native-American-themed Wounded Knee to the honest-to-goodness, straightforward, good-time welcoming foot-tapper Take Us As We Are (a highpoint of the disc for me) and affectionate album closer Say Goodbye, with the disc menu being completed by the sublime instrumental Humphrey’s Waltz. Daniel’s skilled handling of the mandolin and octave mandolin (he learnt from David Grisman, one of the very best!) shines out from the proverbial grooves, and ideally complements his warm vocal style, while he also doubletracks a simple guitar part on a couple of tracks. For some of the time, he’s augmented by the abovementioned Paul Ballantyne, Mark Gamon (guitar or slide guitar) and Marie Mace (bodhrán) – just sufficient embellishment to reinforce the genial down-home nature of the sessions and the music-making.
No quibbles, then – other than a slight trace of reined-in understatement here and there, and the disc’s unexpected brevity (barely 31 minutes).
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