Essential New Music: David Nance’s “Staunch Honey”

A voice whispers. Some sticks dance on the rim of a drum. A couple contrasting guitars weave around some Bo Diddley-worthy maracas. Then David Nance’s voice eases in, doling out the details of a nefarious prescription-pad adventure. The song is “This Side Of The Moon,” and when you hear it, it’s easy to imagine the Nebraska songwriter looking back over his shoulder and conducting his band with nods of the head and dips of his guitar. It’s much harder to believe the truth: Nance put it all together by himself.

Likewise, it’s easy to suppose that Nance and his crew put down their potables and fell right into the just-this-side-of-lazy groove of “Save Me Some Tears.” In fact, it took two years and three tries for Nance to get his fifth LP just right. Turns out, it’s no easy thing to make it look like you didn’t break a sweat, any more than it’s a cinch to lasso some meteorites orbiting the sound worlds of the Velvet Underground, the James Gang and Can, then smack them together to make your own planet. But that’s just what Nance has done with Staunch Honey. Now that he’s done all the hard work, it’s easy to hand him the keys and let him drive you into the night.

—Bill Meyer