I want to start this article by saying something that I can likely never say about another artist. I have never heard an album that captures a person’s personality more than Chelsea Nolan’s new release, ‘chelsea.’ What does that even mean? Glad you asked. Follow me down the rabbit hole and enjoy this one!
I’ve spent some time with Chelsea over the last year. I was honored to take a few photos for promotional purposes and I’ve seen her perform several times. In a way, I watched these songs be born and grow into what you now hear.
On a personal level, Chelsea is one of my favorite folks in our musical community. Her personality is as big as the oceans. She is country, she is loving, she is intelligent, she is adorably goofy, she is brutally honest, but most importantly, she is genuine. There is absolutely nothing fake about her. You get exactly what you see and hear. Those same qualities shine like diamonds all over this album and if I’m being completely honest, Chelsea evokes a lot of the spirit of Loretta Lynn and her early albums. It’s that same style of spunk and authenticity.
For example, take “Build A Fire”. I first heard this song when we were taking her photos. I don’t like posing people, I feel it’s fake, so I told her just to relax, sit down and be you. She did so by playing this song and I immediately fell head over heels for this song. This track is probably the deepest cut on ‘chelsea.’ and in my humble opinion, a bonafide hit.
I’ll let Chelsea explain where this song comes from. “With “Build A Fire”, the idea came to me one night around camp at a place called Skeeter Ranch. I had just spent a few hours laying on top of an abandoned lock wall on the Kentucky River. When I made it back to the ranch, I sat staring at the fire, listening to the cicadas sing and the embers crackle, and thinking about how the fire was made and how long people have sat around and enjoyed the same thing I was enjoying. I started wondering about the man who first created fire and what that must have been like. I’m certain he eagerly shared it with his friends, who appreciated it, but then were left feeling empty and searching to find their very own fire.”
I hope Chelsea enjoys playing “Build A Fire”, or as I rib her about it, “Build A Far”, because I have a feeling that she’ll be performing this one for a very long time.
You will find Chelsea’s wit and sense of humor on full display in “Rock Bottom”. There is only one way to describe this one, it’s stark look at a bad relationship. Her optimism of being freed from an apparent crappy individual makes this little romp one of my favorites.
“You’d steal the pennies off a dead man’s eyes and never lie awake at night. It’s cut and dry like corn and rye. You’re what rock bottom looks like.” Those lyrics are exactly what I meant when I said Chelsea conjures up the spirit of Loretta Lynn.
If you’ve seen Chelsea perform over the past year, as she prepared for this release, she always takes a moment to talk about a verse in the song “Silver Line”. She’ll be the first to tell ya, that the third verse is her favorite. Why? Because she gets to get a dig on her older brother Josh.
“Well I remember the day my brother took me driving. In my Dad’s new Jeep we went to town. Just when everybody started looking, he missed the clutch and then he shut ‘er down”
She adds that Josh, “absolutely did kill my dad’s Jeep at the main stoplight in my one-horse town”. She enjoys pointing out the mistake Josh made, “Because it’s about something he messed up, and I’m his little sister, so it’s my job to never let things go”.
I want to wrap this article up by discussing “Sugar Holler”. Actually discuss isn’t the right word, let me gush about it. Music is supposed to move you. To make you feel. To take you somewhere you’ve never been. Be it in your head or your heart. “Sugar Holler” does that for me. The song takes me to “Sugar Holler.” I can close my eyes and Chelsea paints the picture in my mind.
It’s not often you are granted a bare-naked look inside someone’s head and heart, but ‘chelsea.’ gives you that and more. This album is an absolute gift, just like the young lady that wrote it.