Subject to Flooding

Glitter Kitty Records

Now here’s a startling change: a male singer/songwriter who places equal emphasis on his music and his words. The lack of creativity in this genre is maddening; everybody seems to think they can achieve the success of John Mayer by simply strumming their guitar and looking handsome.

What elevates Nolan from his peers is the “band sound” of this album. His CDBaby bio mentions an ’80s pop influence, which can be misleading. Yes, there is an ’80s sense of melody to Nolan’s craft, but “pop” is a category that can be interpreted in several ways. Nolan’s idea of ’80s pop is not, for example, Wham! or Rick Springfield. Rather, it belongs on the left of the dial, as unpretentious and crystalline as Big Star or a more mellow Replacements.

Given Nolan’s breathy vocals, it’s no surprise that he decided to remake Catherine Wheel’s “The Nude.” After all, there are similarities between his voice and that of Rob Dickinson. While I don’t think the guitars have the epic crunch of Catherine Wheel’s two-fisted attack on this version, Nolan pulls it off, mostly due to his vocal delivery.

Nolan’s original material is freshly wounded by broken relationships; however, none of it is depressing. He seems to sing with a smile on his face, no matter how downbeat his life has become.


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