Songs of beauty and tension, reflection and hope
Based in Sydney, Australia, singer songwriter Jack Nolan has been performing and releasing music and albums since the mid 1990’s. Along with a five-album solo catalogue Jack also fronted The Kelly Gang, with Rick Grossman, bassist for The Divinyls and Hoodoo Gurus along with Midnight Oil drummer Rob Hirst and guitar player Martin Rotsey. Their 2004 album Looking for the Sun is still considered a hidden gem, with an incredible line-up of musicians that delivered passionate and energetic live shows of the time.
Within Nolan’s music, mysterious and shimmering chords unite his sound. Once quaintly described as ‘Darlinghurst Country’ his sound unites elements of folk, country, rock ‘n’ roll and ambient atmospheres fusing Nolan’s passion for intensely charged electric guitar and finger-picked acoustic guitar.
Of recent years, the critically acclaimed 2018 album ‘Our Waverley Star’ was followed by the equally impressive ‘Gabriel’ – both long players being ethereal story books and rich song collections. It was these two American outings that cemented Nolan’s love of the Nashville machine, an association with guitarist/producer Justin Weaver that started with a one-off phone call and developed into an alliance that Nolan describes as ‘Team America.’ What has now become a regular jaunt is an opportunity for Nolan to get away from all the distractions of home, and “arrive in town, in the northern winter, when everyone’s off the road, with my swag of songs to greet all the boys again to collaborate”
Which brings us to Jacks next offering – JINDABYNE – set for release in early 2023, and frustratingly delayed by that virus. This is an album that waited in the wings while lockdowns and rules meant the guitar took on a whole new meaning. “I arrived home from Nashville in early March 2020 with ‘Gabriel’ ready for mastering. One week later the world was turned on its axis and we all went into lockdown – nobody really knew what was happening and suddenly there were no certainties in life; this created a sense of urgency in me, so I made a conscious decision not to waste the time and went to work writing JINDABYNE. As soon as the plane could fly, I was booked and took off back to the US. That was last February 2022.”
One hears JINDABYNE and thinks perhaps that urgency brought on by covid only speeds things up. Here though, the rolling memories remain, the genesis of so many of Nolan’s songs. This is another rich body of work that traverses themes that ignite, with (of course) songs of love and of the muse – that long term companion that appears always, and is no more apparent than in the album opener Dollar with a looping twelve string intro – a big tip of the cap to the mighty Wilburys, as Nolan sings; “And she loved me like no other / When I did not have one dollar / Not a dollar / On me”
Other themes include loss, where in Reading Minds there’s almost a calling to an old friend, where the artist rues the loss of someone close and where the distance of youth recalls what was, left behind by one but not the other, and where “For one moment we were young / Your sun it faded / Sparks light fires / Like fools and liars run”
Then there’s the album title, taken from the ever so sweet Solo Sailor that lets us in on a journey to a place where – “The road is twisted into Jindabyne / Up In the mountains there’s a place you’ll find / A place to lock it up forever / to leave it there and go / With all the other things / That I don’t know. Other highlights include, the up-tempo She Knew where nothing’s perfect, but she knew he loved her, and her knowing that will have to do for now, and the timeless finger picker, All The Ships In The Ocean that floats around lush LA harmonies on “One Crystal morning / Trouble I see” where “Word ‘round the world / Is following me”
Here one senses though that the rebel is never far away. Two years of stolen liberties has only hardened Jacks resolve, to remain forever suspicious of rule makers and even more dedicated to his ongoing contribution to art, to song writing. “JINDABYNE” is a record for this year, where we are all staggering on after two years of madness, and we have all arrived back to that place we had drifted too far from, the simple things, love and reality, family, and community.