Atlanta’s Moses Nesh has been playing music since he was five years old when his father first put a mandolin in his hands. The singer-songwriter grew up amidst a strong bluegrass community in North Carolina where the spirit of what he calls “old time music” still lingered. As a teenager he was exposed to late ’20s blues music, an experience that dramatically altered his perspective of guitar playing. “That [experience] opened me up to the emotional power one person could get out of a guitar,” Nesh informs Immersive via email. “I’ve been chasing that ever since.”
Although Nesh has been writing and recording music for the better part of a decade, his forthcoming LP, No Labor-Saving Machine, marks the first record where he’s taken a serious stab at the recording process. Whereas his last album, 2014’s The Lovely Ohio, was recorded on a four-track one afternoon in a shed, the new LP, which was engineered, mixed, and co-produced by Graham Tavel, took almost two years to complete.
Our first taste from the new album is the haunting, elegiac “The Onion,” which floats across your speaker like a wayward ghost searching for their final resting place. Based loosely on an early 19th century Russian folk tale, the song explores themes of self-inflicted loss, suffering, and redemption, while harking back to the sepia-toned blues-folk and mountain songs of Nesh’s youth. It’s a grim and solitary piece of music that cuts like a bitterly cold wind, leaving the listener scrambling for shelter.
“One of the things that resonates most about old time music for me is it’s stark loneliness,” says Nesh. “People back then were physically isolated and didn’t have much option to communicate a lot of the times, today we still feel the same loneliness but choose not to communicate. So a lot of my songs end up with the speaker being in a ditch of their own digging. The hopelessness of everyday life for everyday people.”
No Labor-Saving Machine is out April 21 via Keeled Scales. Pre-orders are available here.
Moses Nesh will perform on Fri., April 21 at the Casa Nova. He will be supported by Casey Hood, Lebo Jenkins, Frank Hurricane, and Liz Durette. Doors open at 9 p.m. Suggested donation of $5. All ages. Safe space.