Joe Nolan – Crybaby Album Launch

Saturday 22nd, September 2018 / 11:08
By Mike Dunn

Photo by Mike Dunn

The King Eddy, September 21st

In from the Friday evening autumn storm, a squall of highly musical feedback mixed lean behind a fingerpicked acoustic guitar was notice enough that the early evening performance by Edmonton singer-songwriter Joe Nolan would be a hushed affair, with the emphasis on melody, lyrics, and emotive vocals that people have come to expect from Nolan over his decade-long recording career.

“Main Street” had the feel of a solo acoustic Springsteen number, words of nostalgia giving way to impending adulthood. The changes were straightforward, and in the simplicity of that continuous chord change it gave give Nolan ample room to lean in and make the narrative the focal point. And that’s what separates Nolan from a number of his similarly youthful peers. His lines are universal without being tacky; Nolan finds the what-happens-next in the same line that most songwriters would be talking about what was happening now. “Another Dead Poet” was a standout, a lyrically dense number regarding the perils of rock n’ roll decadence in the 21st century. Whether one of the underground poets, or the flashes in the pan, or the longterm artist who’s had several runs through the game, it’s the kind of number that other musicians should feel instinctively with its closing refrain, “What are you doing with your whole life? I’m just another dead poet trying to make it out alive.”

Nolan was ably backed by Calgary veteran guitar player Russell Broom, who added a number of feels, from skanky blues riffs and Memphis soul, to some of his signature ambient sonic work, which really ratcheted up the intensity of Nolan’s quieter numbers. Nataya Nolan’s harmonies felt like a bit of that early Tammy Terrell, churchy, yet sweet and soulful, both Detroit and Nashville rolled into her tone, providing a dulcet layer behind her brother’s lead vocals.

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