Off Track Betting
**** "These nine songs report from the edge of heartbreak on a world of fevered intensity..... Moody, intense, thoughtful and very good!" -Irish Times 2/29/08 **** "Seamless smoke rings of atmospheric campfire reflection, tempered with heady, tumbling slow-roots melodies and a restless wisdom. . At the moment, there are few others in Americana who carry his rugged presence. For Nels Andrews is that much sought-after treasure in music. He's the real deal." - Maverick 'Sunday Shoes' was always going to be a hard act to follow, but Nels Andrews handles this new set of nine selfpenned songs on 'Off Track Betting' with intelligent assurance. For all intents and purposes, 'Off Track Betting' has temporarily replaced the bebop of Charlie Parker for the soundtrack to Kerouac's bestseller, if only for a while. If this is the evolving route for all things Americana, then it's fine by me.- fRoots 9 out of 10 "Excellent follow up to feted debut" "The songs are at times dreamlike, shuffling past, almost languid. Andrews' vocals are reminiscent of Jackson Browne on Late For the Sky, and the songs here reach that peak of creativity. It would be unfair to pick out highlights, from the start this album draws one in with welcoming arms.... one cannot fail to mention the excellent "Temple Incense", best song so far this year." -Americana UK **** "The sound of dusty southern tracks, observation, love, loss and discovery.. The anti-Jack Johnson, if that serves as any encouragement." - Album(s) of the week Virgin media (UK) 2/28/08 "Nels' previous album 'Sunday Shoes' is a real understated, low-key gem full of strong songs; but it's on this follow-up album that he really delivers the goods.. it will inevitably end up on many 'best of' lists in 11 months time. An essential album from an artist right at the top of his craft."- Fish records UK Nels Andrews has devoted his life to exploring '....the space between the dollar and the dream...' He has traveled the world, keenly observing the life surrounding him and taking notes. His second album, Off Track Betting is the crystallization of those observations. Andrews grew up on the beaches, deserts, and in the heartland of America. He met characters at the carnivals where he worked in his teens, heard Greg Brown tell stories when he hitch-hiked to Ketchikan, Alaska to work in the fisheries after college, and drank Black Velvet in the back of custom lowriders and El Caminos when he lived in the deserts of New Mexico. Not one to sit idly by, Andrews has immersed himself as a cabinet-maker, tree planter in South Dakota, rock band leader,sheep poacher and solitary seeker surrounded by well armed, amphetamine fueled neighbors with dogs on long chains, children of hippies whose parents' gurus had all left town, and all kinds of small town drunks and prophets. All of these folks have colored his world view. For his critically acclaimed 2005 debut Sunday Shoes, Andrews embraced those experiences and harnessed the sounds of the desert. Here on Off Track Betting, he remains firmly rooted in the Americana tradition while expanding those boundaries to explore the spaces between the textures and rhythms of New York City - a place he now calls home. A city seen from the abandoned piers and rooftops replaces the familiar mesas and sagebrush oceans of New Mexico. For Off Track Betting, Andrews along with producer Todd Sickafoose (Ani DiFranco, Erin McKeown, Andrew Bird) assembled a band that includes Sickafoose on bass, guitarist Adam Levy (Norah Jones, Amos Lee), keyboardist Mikael Jorgensen (Wilco), vocalists Ana Egge and AJ Roach, and a talented crop of supporting musicians. The new songs were recorded at Trout Studios in Brooklyn. 'Sonically, I learned to push the edges in the exploration of acoustic music with Todd Sickafoose" says Andrews. "He had the vision to help me turn these sketches and storylines into cinematic shorts while keeping the desert places and cityscapes in the sounds. We recorded most of the tracks live to 2" tape. Having the musicians all in one room kept a real organic nature to the record. A Leslie speaker spun the electronic Farfisa and ARP sounds around the room in such a way that you could feel them buzzing and hovering like June bugs and zeppelins. We sculpted out all the parts in real time, often using the first or second take'. Although the vistas have changed over the years, Andrews found he could still draw on the inspiration of those familiar mesa's, and infuse Off Track Betting with the essence of his new life in New York City. Andrews says "We strayed from the traditional folk sound, moving into newer soundscapes to incorporate harp, klezmer banjos, sampled electronics, toy pianos and a wine glass orchestra. Looking in from outside, we were able to make a new place from the visions and imaginings a person may get when seeing somewhere from far away, maybe what you hope it will look like, when you get there'. Andrews' aforementioned debut Sunday Shoes was deemed by BBC2's legendary DJ Bob Harris as one of his "Albums of the Year" in 2005. The record went on to win critical praise from the US, UK and Dutch Americana music communities and earned Andrews awards from Kerrville, Telluride, Mountain Stage NewSong and Falcon Ridge in 2006. This recognition has led him to tour the UK and Europe, as well as the United States, and has seen him on the mainstage at festivals in Holland, Glasgow, and Newcastle "The sound-world conjured by Nels and his producer Todd Sickafoose is truly extraordinary, for all it's being rooted in folky Americana, it's use of weird instrumental colors and assorted percussion marks Nels out as an original. There's an unearthly (almost inhuman) intelligence at work in his arrangements, and sparse bedrocks are rendered uncannily lush while retaining the basic eerie yet urgent qualities of the instrumentation. The songwriting is concise and compelling; my favorite track's the impressively beautiful Lady Of The Silver Spoon, but several others run it close." - Folk Roundabout UK "Nels Andrews reels out a set of songs whose quality is simply jaw-dropping... In "Dollar And the Dream" he hymns the quiet desperation of knowing that you're never quite going to get there but have to keep trying anyway, "Lady Of The Silver Spoon's' desperate tale of the loss of a baby puts the audience through the wringer (and back again for good measure)... The audience hang on his every word, recognizing that they're in the presence of someone special...' - Americana UK Live Review.