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Tuesday, April 08, 2014

featuring the very best of americana, and roots music
April 5, 2014
Scott Foley  

Crowd funding is the way to go these days.  Why didn't we think of this earlier:  Ask the hordes of fans who are eagerly awaiting your next album to pay in advance.  Lexington, KY's Josh Nolan thought so.  Problem is, what happens when your loyal hordes fail to come through on their side of the deal?  If you head to Nolan's Indiegogo page, you'll see he raised just over $1,100 of his $5,000 goal.  Josh Nolan just worked harder, finally releasing Fair City Lights last week.  Seems like a good idea for a song ...

Sure, Josh Nolan's songs bring to mind "heartland" rockers like J.C. Mellencamp as much as small town prophets like early Springsteen.  In his own words, "It's that working to get off work, up all night in the parking lot, trying , but only kinda, to get out of this 4 light town kind of rock and roll.  With a little bit of country".  Influences and comparisons only get you so far if they're not backed by the brand of genuine rock and roll talent possessed by Nolan. Like Hold Steady's Craig Finn, he's blessed with a decidedly anti-rock face and build.  He's like your high school science teacher who can also write some cool lyrics: 
There's something pretty down by the river / that keeps bringing me back to this place / the sun cracked crosses the flat top prophets / it's a polaroid of small town grace ...
While he's presently working with a regular band, Josh Nolan handles most instrumental duties on Fair City Lights, from memorable, cutting guitar lines to more subtle acoustic touches that lend the record its "little bit of country".  There are the more immediate tracks like "Waitin' On the Night" and "Til the Words Run Out" that grab you right off with their bravado and poetry.  The cuts that interest me more as a lover of words are "East KY Skyline" and "Do It Right", both of which are strong ballads that favor the Springsteen side of Nolan's equation.  Thing is, it's been a lifetime since Bruce could write about "singin' take it to the limit by the dairy queen" and sound as genuine as Nolan does.  

*  Alabama Shakes, "Heavy Chevy"  Boys & Girls  (ATO, 12)
*  Musketeer Gripweed, "Sin Eater"  Floods & Fires  (Self, 14)  C,D
*  Far West, "On the Road"  Any Day Now  (Medina River, 14)
*  Hillstomp, "Henry Oh My Henry"  Portland, Ore  (Fluff & Gravy, 14)
*  Secret Sisters, "Iuka"  Put Your Needle Down  (Republic, 14)
*  Joe Henry, "I Flew Over Our House Last Night"  Kindness of the World  (Polydor, 98)
*  Drive-by Truckers, "Natural Light"  English Oceans  (ATO, 14)
*  Casper Allen, "Scratch-Off Blues"  Wayfair'd  (Self, 14)  C, D
*  First Aid Kit, "My Silver Lining"  Stay Gold  (Columbia, 14)  D
*  Parker Millsap, "When I Leave"  Parker Millsap  (Okrahoma, 14)
*  Von Stomper, "Train Train"  Von Stomper  (Self, 14)  C, D
*  Andre Williams & the Sadies, "I'm An Old Old Man"  Red Dirt  (Bloodshot, 99)
*  Gord Downie & the Sadies, "It Didn't Start To Break My Heart Until This Afternoon"  Gord Downie, the Sadies & the Conquering Sun  (Arts & Crafts, 14)
*  Simone Felice, "Molly O!"  Strangers  (Dualtone, 14)
*  Nikki Lane, "Right Time"  All or Nothin'  (New West, 14)
^  Josh Nolan, "East Ky Skyline"  Fair City Lights  (Self, 14)  D
*  St Paul & the Broken Bones, "Half the City"  Half the City  (Single Lock, 14)
*  Deer Tick, "Night After Night"  Bob Dylan in the 80s  (ATO, 14)
*  My Darling Clementine, "No Matter What Tammy Said (I Won't Stand By Him)"  Reconciliation  (Five Head, 13)
*  Bobby Bare Jr, "Blame Everybody (But Yourself)"  Undefeated  (Bloodshot, 14)  D
*  John Doe, "Poor Girl"  Best of John Doe: This Far  (Yep Roc, 14)  D
*  Rodney Crowell, "Jesus Talk To Mama"  Tarpaper Sky  (New West, 14)
*  Dawn Landes, "Bloodhound"  Bluebird  (Western Vinyl, 14)
*  Bobby Charles, "I Spent All My Money Lovin' You"  Last Train to Memphis  (Proper, 04)
*   Brigitte DeMeyer, "Boy's Got Soul"  Savannah Road  (Self, 14) D
*  Will Kimbrough, "Dance Like Grownups Dance"  Sideshow Love  (Daphne, 14)
*  Stone Jack Jones, "Way Gone Wrong"  Ancestor  (Western Vinyl, 14)
*  Delines, "I Won't Slip Up"  Colfax  (Self, 14)

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