JACK NOLAN RELEASES NEW ALBUM ‘JINDABYNE’
Casualties of the COVID-19 pandemic take countless different forms.
There are the obvious dead, scores cut down far before their time. It
felled our everyday lives, as well, forcing virtually everyone to
sacrifice the way of life to which we are long accustomed. It
disconnected families, loved ones, and communities. The list is endless.
Another casualty of the pandemic is the toll it exacted on art.
Jack Nolan’s much-delayed album Jindabyne was one of those casualties.
He began writing the songs on this release in March 2020 when the
lockdowns first took hold, but the ongoing situation with the pandemic
put off recording the songs. When Nolan could assemble his studio
collaborators at last, they recorded the album’s eleven songs live
without any backing tracks supporting their effort.
You can hear that immediacy from the first. “Dollar” surges out of the
gate with a bright and welcoming sound. Nolan’s matter-of-fact vocal
tone and phrasing has musicality to spare, as well, but it’s the rich
multi-part harmonies that offer the high point for the song’s singing.
His lyrical acumen is still as sharp as ever and the first-person
perspective fosters added intimacy with listeners. “Reading Minds” has
considerable evocative power. A smattering of post-production effects
wreathes Nolan’s voice with an atmospheric aura and the moody
arrangement complements his singing. Excellent electric guitar work puts
an emphatic exclamation point on the song’s second half.
The careening rock trajectory of “She Knew” packs plenty of wallop
within three minutes. The guitar playing stands out, once again, with
Justin Weaver’s divebombing string bends filling the arrangement with
rambunctious fire. The rhythm section of bassist Chris Autry and drummer
Jimmy Paxson are a formidable tandem ideally suited for fare such as
this. Nolan returns to the dramatic territory of the earlier “Reading
Minds” for the album’s fifth track “Falling”. This song, however,
forgoes any post-production effects in favor of a straighter approach
and Weaver’s guitar playing knifes through you with piercing emotion.
Judged in the context of the entire album, it’s an outstanding
illustration of Nolan’s musical dexterity.
“August Song” is as well. It begins with a classic count-in and pursues
a low-key acoustic direction for much of the song. Nolan and his
cohorts, however, dial up the musical intensity past the song’s midway
point and close the track in dramatic fashion. The lush and elegiac
“Solo Sailor” is one of Jindabyne’s peak moments. Delicate guitar
playing, patient development, and incisive lyrics distinguish the track
and counterpointing Nolan’s voice with female accompaniment layers the
cut with unexpected color. It’s obviously one of the album’s
centerpieces and deservedly so.
He extends his songwriting delicacy even further with the album closer.
“All the Ships in the Ocean” expands on the elegiac qualities of “Solo
Sailor” without ever retreading over familiar ground and has a deeper
reflective flavor. It’s a wise move ending the album on such a calm and
considered note after the several blasts of near all-out guitar rock
that fuel the album’s first half. Perhaps the delay worked in
Jindabyne’s favor as it’s rare to hear such a coherent and complete
collection. It’s Jack Nolan’s finest moment yet.