Album Reviews,  Music

Album Review: Eastern Kentucky’s Josh Nolan Releases ‘Kind Heart To Follow’ On May 17th

I wanna say something that likely won’t mean anything to you, unless you know Josh Nolan. We’ll get to his new album momentarily, but I feel the need to share some insight that I feel is relevant.

Now what I am about to say, is not a negative thing. Perceptions can be tricky when trying to get the information to folks in a manner that makes sense to everyone. So follow me as I explain why this young man should be on your radar.

Josh Nolan cares so little about being percieved as cool, that his attitude is exactly what makes him cool. Let me explain. The music community here is like family. If you see a local show, there’s a darn good chance Josh will be playing it.

Need a guitar player? What key? Go.

Need a bass player? What’s my anchor? Go.

Need some harmonies? What’s the lyrics? Go.

There is a certain Kentucky Americana Countrified Rock sound that permeates from our Commonwealth. A sound that is expanding it’s territorial bindings on a daily basis.

There are about six to eight musicians that have a huge hand in shaping that sound. The fellas in Wayne Graham have a studio in Whitesburg where lots of folks record, so their ears and influences are all over the music here.

David and Teresa Prince inspire folks, while David plays shows with a multitude of different artists.

Then there’s Josh Nolan. He is the swiss army knife of the Kentucky sound. He’s the glue that keeps this community going. Don’t believe me? Josh played at least eight different sets at the 2018 version of Kickin’ It On The Creek. You don’t get that opportunity unless you’ve earned the respect of your peers. Nolan is also a member of Senora May’s backing band.

So now it’s time for Mr. Nolan to shine on his own record. Josh released his last record in 2014. Once released ‘Fair City Lights’ got excellent critical acclaim, and is in regular rotation in the Tyler Childers and The Foodstamps’ tour bus, according to Craig Burletic, Tyler’s bass player.

On 5/17, Josh is releasing ‘Kind Heart to Follow.’ A collection of nine new songs that capture a sound that harkens back to artists like the great Tom Petty, Neil Young or even Bruce Springsteen. A carefully crafted audible journey that is at times an energetic romp, other times a soulful plea, and even a tearjerker at times. This album is unlike anything else out there.

Take a listen to the first single, “Kein Hirte” and you’ll hear exactly what I mean.

Josh Nolan – “Kein Hirte” (Official Music Video):

Nolan delivers songs that do not fit any mold or any specific genre with many audible layers that create an atmospheric vibe and for me, ‘Kind Heart To Follow’ is a beautiful breath of fresh air.

While Nolan is a very talented multi-instrumentalist, it’s his lyrics that stand front and center. Turning a phrase, twisting meanings, sharing his life through the smoke and haze that helps him along is Nolan’s superpower.

I mentioned Kickin It On The Creek earlier, it was there where I first heard “Revelations: Things Could Be Different”. Josh performed an acoustic set there, with his little sister Chelsea in the front row, and after his set, I immediately found him so I could tell him that he had something special with this song. Now that I can hear the progression the song made from that day to this recording further cements my thoughts from that hot September day and I could not be any happier with this beautiful song.

There are no “duds” in this collection, so you’ll have a very difficult time picking your favorites. Lord knows I am while writing this, but highlights for me include “Angels With Dirty Faces”, “Making Eyes”, “The Honeysuckle (Hold On) and of course the aforementioned songs “Kein Hirte” and “Revelations: Things Could Be Different.”

Josh Nolan – “Making Eyes” (BalconyTV):

Kentucky has long been known for bluegrass music, but I think we’re seeing an evolution of a new sound here that flows through these mountains like a refreshing stream. For those in the know, I think we’re seeing “Creek Music” evolve into something special.

Pick up your vinyl, CD, download all three at Shaker Steps here.