Nathan Kalish has spent the past decade averaging 200 shows a year at bars and honky-tonks across the country. It's from this experience he cultivated his new collection of story songs for his 10th album, the self-produced Songs for Nobody. His sound has been described as a "unique brew of Americana, rockabilly and outlaw country." Through his cutting and intimate lyrics, he transports listeners from the passenger seat of his touring van to behind a magnifying glass aimed at the darker side of American culture. It's not only his experiences that he shares, but the experiences of the people that he has met along the way.
The music he's released has landed him on stages with Lucinda Williams, Molly Tuttle, and Lucero. He's earned accolades from Rolling Stone Country, Saving Country Music and dozens of alt-weeklies. Kalish has lived the life of a curious wanderer, taking his music from town to town, creating a catalog of songs that act as colorful snapshots, like polaroids in a photo album. His music has been compared to American icons like Merle Haggard, John Prine, Gram Parsons, and the Sun Records’ rockabilly roster, circa 1956.
Kalish’s new LP Songs for Nobody was recorded at Nashville’s Trace Horse Studio and provides an auditory evolution of that engaging, mysterious psych-folk sound. Finding inspiration from acts like Darrell Scott and Daniel Romano, Kalish brings a gritty moodiness to his expertly-blended traditional country elements. By recruiting incredible locally-based talent that includes acclaimed guitarist Laur Joamets (Sturgill Simpson, Drivin N Cryin) and pedal steel aficionado Adam Kurtz (Great Peacock, American Aquarium), Kalish tapped into the magic of Nashville’s tightly-knit creative community to bring his vision to life. The result of this collaboration is an LP filled with heart-wrenchingly honest and reflective songs that leave a lasting mark on anyone who listens.
The haunting yet comedic title track, “Songs for Nobody,” shows the mental and emotional strain life on the road can bring. From the tedium of long hauls across the country to the stale smell of gas stop cuisine, the moments that precede and follow nightly sets in strange cities provide their own unique set of challenges and stressors. Note by note, Kalish examines what the cost of those fleeting moments on stage can bring.
Even with its unexpected curves and bumps, Nathan Kalish’s committed relationship with the road is one that still has many more miles to go. With a busy 2020 planned, Songs for Nobody will mark an important chapter in Kalish’s creative journey, which is only just beginning.
"Kalish rattles you to the core, and he’s unafraid to make you squirm ─ or at least jolt you awake." 4 out of 5
"These searing reflections are delivered vigorously by Kalish, its spry instrumentation a force prepared to fill any honky-tonk with its rootsy charisma."
"5 out of 6 stars"
"in fact, a set of songs for everyone who likes their music real with a hard coating of country music in several forms."
"Like Daniel Romano or Robert Ellis, he wields a complete working knowledge of what's come before in country music, even if he prefers to operate slightly outside the norm. "
"Part Waylon Jennings and part Gordon Lightfoot, he perfectly blends rough edged lyrics with lush musical arrangements. Like a velvet-gloved fist"
"Kalish is a seasoned performer with a voice full of character ."
"A throwback country folk nugget that harkens the work of Steve Earle and Robert Earl Keen. Kalish delivers with an aged bravado that conjures images of 70’s wood paneling and neon beer signs."
"Nathan Kalish consistently tells a heartwrenching lyrical tale over serious alt-country musicianship. He’s gathered a band of heavy hitters around him on Songs for Nobody and it really puts his already-great songwriting over the top."
"Nothing beats a well-written song, with strong playing and topped off by a voice brimming with soul and character. All the boxes are ticked on this new single (and the accompanying album) from Nathan Kalish."
"Grapes of Wrath set to music. Dustbowl plow scraped to the depths. Any analogy of depth and reality you want to use are all good ways to describe what Nathan Kalish’s music feels like."
Americana and country that dips its toes into the waters of alternative rock and psychedelia.
"My Best" articulates Kalish's wandering spirit, and rolls along with an easy vocal delivery before an otherworldly spiraling solo.
"It’s the real, true-to-life version of forgotten America that songwriter Nathan Kalish and The Lastcallers sing about in their new album Continental Breakfast of Champions; not some fairy tale to help prop up a false sense of escapism for bored suburbanites."
“Continental Breakfast of Champions” cements Kalish and his hard-gigging, crisscross-the-nation band as a true force on that scene with tales from the road and street prophet-styled commentaries on “Religious Freedom,” “Rich Man’s Tool, Then Die,” and “Overdosin’ on the U.S.A.” Recorded at Native Sound in St. Louis and engineered by Kalish himself, this follow-up to last year’s “How Am I Supposed to Get Back Home” is chock full of Eric Soules’ distinctive thumping bass, Mike Hopper’s twangy, fiery guitar work and Kalish’s earthy philosophy – culminating in the haunting final track, “High Desert.” It’s an incendiary, provocative mix of players and songs, and the way country music is supposed to sound”
Clearly, they love what they do and the time spent playing together had paid dividends on Continental Breakfast Of Champions. They are a tight unit. Although the band consists of three, they really blend into one. If you try to focus on the individual instruments, you can. But why?
"Nathan Kalish is a songwriter’s songwriter. He makes the kind of music that other songwriters aspire towards. And on this latest release, Kalish and the Lastcallers avoid even the threat of a sophomore slump with the tremendous Continental Breakfast of Champions. "
"Kalish appears to have no fear as he is very objective and even handed in his writing. He puts everything out there for us to interpret and internalize. There are two tragedies here. One is the sad events that happened in Kalish’s life and the other is the fact that album has gone overlooked. It isn’t too late. We can make up for lost time. This album definitely will stand the test of time."
"sounds like detroit found some balls in the trash and gave the detonator of an atomic bomb to an arab monkey. this is the one thing the detroit freepress did not want to happen!"
"Nathan Kalish and the Wildfire is an energetic, southern-tinged rock and roll band from Grand Rapids, Mich., with a sound that could be likened to what alt-country was before that wuss Ryan Adams got a hold of it."
"Mixing folk and psych rock, Nathan Kalish and the Wildfire come from across the state to bring a tasty blend of sounds.The Wildfire’s sound harkens back to an essential period of music and does so in a way that isn’t demeaning."
"Like a wild bottle rocket with a short fuse, Kalish has blasted to the top of Grand Rapids' rock scene in short order, his raw, energetic, rootsy, blissfully catchy tunes packing a more forceful wallop than, say, anything from Ryan Adams or even The Raconteurs. With guitarist Julio Gomez and crew tearin' it up, Kalish spits out blistering, creative, dangerous flames."