By Jackie Morris

Claudi_Nygaard_-_Let_the_Storm_Roll_InWith her new second album, Let the Storm Roll In, Claudia Nygaard is enjoying one of the most richly deserved success stories on the folk/Americana scene today. After years of honing her craft – performing at over 150 fairs and festivals in 47 states and across Europe, and working as a full-time staff songwriter on Nashville’s Music Row – Nygaard has emerged as an award-winning singer-songwriter whose new album has swept the Americana, Roots, and Folk Charts (actually staying on the Folk Charts for three months now).

Produced by Nygaard in 2011, Let The Storm Roll In provides an excellent showcase for her multiple talents and mastery of several styles. From quiet country/folk story-songs to old-time country roots…from upbeat love-and-heartache songs (delivered by self-described “torch singers in cowboy boots”) to social commentary…from personal ballads to laugh-out-loud humor, Claudia is a consummate storyteller. And her rich, warm voice is well suited for all these styles. On every track, her lyrics are impeccably crafted – witty or moving, catchy or thought-provoking – perfectly attuned to whatever is called for. But it is far more than professional perfection that has made this CD garner critical accolades from reviewers and DJs alike. This album has heart.

In fact, Let The Storm Roll In holds some gems that have the makings of instant classics. Not surprisingly, they are often the ones with the most personal, authentic theme to them, mined from Nygaard’s own life. Among these are: J.C. and His Left Side. Coming straight out of Nygaard’s childhood, J.C. is a look at racism in decades past from a child’s innocent perspective. His Left Side is a beautiful tribute to her father in his final days and the spirit that overcomes mortal limitations.

Equally powerful is the opening track, Big Country, an epic tribute to every family who has ever immigrated to America. The seemingly simple concept – that people of all nationalities have come here to follow their personal dreams, and they have all struggled to make those dreams a reality – is so profoundly moving and unifying, that the song is nothing short of inspiring. The lyrics recount traditional “names” of these immigrants, from the Irish (“We had names like Sean and Coleen when we reached the harbor…”) to Scandinavian, Hispanic, Jewish, Asian, Native American and Islamic, and they are accompanied by typical instrumentation from those countries. The Irish verse opens with a penny whistle and a bodhran…the Scandinavian verse has a fiddle behind it…and the Hispanic verse contains an accordion.

Finally, my own personal favorite is the guaranteed-to-make-you-smile satire, Miss Kitty, a brilliant spoof of the old classic TV Western series, Gunsmoke.  Its catchy chorus, “C’mon Marshall, give Miss Kitty a kiss,” pokes fun at the uptight mores of the 50s, when the show was conceived, hysterically viewing the prim-and-proper behavior through a modern lens.

Not surprisingly, several of the songs on this album have already earned top honors. In 2004, Claudia won the coveted “New Folk” award at the Kerrville Folk Festival with J.C. and Georgia Boy, a sensuous, dreamy 50’s style love song evoking the feeling of Ray Charles’ classic Georgia. In 2009, Claudia was chosen as one the Emerging Artists at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival in New York. And more recently, this fall, her epic, Big Country, was selected for the in-flight playlist of Lufthansa Airlines.

Nygaard does all her own back-up vocals, but she does sing one duet, I Want to Touch You, with Lennie Gallant, who has won 14 awards from the Canadian East Coast Music Association, including male artist of the year and album of the year.

In addition, Let The Storm Roll In boasts an impressive cast of musicians, including Colin Linden (of Blackie and the Rodeo Kings) on electric guitar, legendary session player Charlie McCoy on harmonica, Grammy winners Andy Reiss (on acoustic guitar) and Jeff Taylor (on penny whistle and accordion), multi-instrumentalist Fats Kaplan on fiddle, dobro, mandolin, and accordion; plus Telecaster wizard Redd Volkaert, dobro virtuoso Randy Khors, and Prairie Home Companion favorite Cindy Cashdollar on lap steel and dobro.  The rhythm section is made up of Johnny Cash sideman Dave Roe on doghouse bass, and Rick Lonow on percussion.

It’s a top-flight production from start to finish, and seasoned with wit, wisdom and humor, Let The Storm Roll In should earn Claudia Nygaard a spot in the limelight for a long time to come.

A New York transplant to the tiny town of Carpinteria, CA, Jackie is a freelance writer by profession and a singer-songwriter by passion. Her newly-released third album of original Folk/Americana songs was among Top Albums on the Folk Music Radio Airplay Charts for July and August, 2011. Jackie is also an active member in such acoustic music communities as SummerSongs, SongMakers, and FARWest Folk Alliance.