by Jasmine Zweifler
We locals are well aware that the The Ark is basically the gold standard for folk, country and acoustic-y music in the area. The venue plays host to some of the biggest names in the biz and has almost a monopoly on sweet-voiced guitar toting storytellers. While The Ark is indeed an institution, it is also no secret that at times it can sometimes skew a bit musty as it prides itself in bringing in some of folk’s greatest and oldest legends. But tomorrow night (November 4) will feature a punch of fresh talent when Jay Nash and Graham Colton tag team the Ann Arbor venue. These two singer/songwriters are sure to draw a younger crowd Sunday night with their earnest lyrics and intimate performance style.
Jay Nash looks like Ryan Gosling and sounds like a mix between Glen Hansard and Bruce Springsteen. His lyrics are to the point and introspective with little room for fussy instrumentation, which he quickly dispenses with. Though Nash never lets the touchy-feely singer songwriter stereotype take over, his early devotion to bands like Kiss and Def Leppard is evident more lyrically than musically. You won’t find any squibbley guitar riffs, but his words often have a hard edge. When he growls “you’ve got no choice but to be alone/you made a fool of your own damn self/ now you’re out with lies to tell,” you can tell he’s no shrinking violet. Folk titans Cat Stevens and Bob Dylan loom large in Nash’s legend. He channels them with songs that feel deeply personal yet reach hopefully outward to the listener. He is touring in support of his most recent EP entitled “Of the Woods.”
As I mentioned, Nash won’t be flying solo Sunday — along for the ride and bringing his own down-home Oklahoma charm is Graham Colton. Last year’s “Pacific Coast Eyes” marked his first full length independent release and topped the iTunes singer songwriter charts. His voiced almost eerily resembles Michael Stipe when performing live, but with a swirl of Colin Hay (with whom he toured last year). His list of cohorts speaks to his extraordinary talent — everyone from Toad the Wet Sprocket to the Flaming Lips Wayne Coyne. His songs often have a wide open feel that evoke a childhood of dusty roads of hard packed earth and recording sessions on the U.S./Mexico border.
The show at The Ark will be Colton and Nash’s final show together before Nash jets off to Germany and Colton heads across the country to the dreary north of Seattle. It is sure to be a fond farewell for the two and a dreamy double header for the audience.