Josh Nolan: Kind Heart To Follow
Josh Nolan released his sophomore album, Kind Heart to Follow, on May 17, 2019. Nolan recorded and self-produced all nine tracks of his newest release in his own home studio, with engineer Kenny Miles of Wayne Graham. Though Nolan is responsible for much of the instrumentation on the album (vocals, electric guitar, bass, dobro, synth and keys), there are other notable musicians who make appearances throughout the production. This talented list includes friend and drummer, Josh Anglin, sister, singer, and songwriter, Chelsea Nolan, half of the Local Honeys singing duo, Montana Hobbs and Wayne Graham’s drummer, Hayden Miles. Seven of the nine tracks on the album have been written by Nolan, with the exception of “Angels With Dirty Faces,” written by his good friend Cory Nolan, and “Makin’ Eyes” was written by Jeremy Townsend. The album is a little bit country, a lot of rock n’ roll, with a dash of 60s psychedelia, sprinkled in with a little out of this world sound…you’ll know what that means when you hear it. Kind Heart to Follow is a work of musical lyricism infused with the perfect instrumental compositions that make this production a fine art and a masterpiece. Nolan is a true genius in an artistical sense.
Kind Heart to Follow goes hot right out of the gate with “Angels with Dirty Faces.” Track one takes the listener on a lyrical and instrumental journey deep into the mind of Josh Nolan. On the surface, the track might seem like your simple song about the elusiveness of finding love. Upon a closer listen, the poetry is truly in motion here, making, this tune far more complex and deeper than first imagined, and very identifiable to a variety of audience profiles. The tune is about an asshole who uses women to feed his own selfish hunger. “I never stuck around to see her cry / I heard about it from a friend we shared.” The song is a self-analysis of how someone continues to create life messes, knowingly, while searching for their inner, better self. “I met a dirty face girl from the Tennessee line / I was hungry and she cared for me / I used her up and left her by herself… / The good me is hard to find…” A stellar tune on an album that is nothing short of spectacular from track one through nine.
By the time that you reach track five, “Lady Luck,” you begin to feel the pattern of this album. One through four will leave you needing to hear more. While the theme and tone of this production is a familiar one that is recurring throughout the history of music, the unique sound is that of the one and only Josh Nolan. “Lady Luck” is the work of an instrumental madman that is the advanced conductor of his own sound. The tune seems to be about the battle that so many of us have with depression and substance abuse. “Why ya down on lady luck / Twisted up in the sheets.” The song hits home both lyrically and musically. However, while the interpretation can vary from listeners perspectives, Nolan stated that “Lady Luck” is actually “a breakup song.” “Not wishing the worst on someone / But hoping their cover gets blown.” There’s some real shit on this album, and “Lady Luck” isn’t the exception, no matter how the lyrics play in your life and state of mind.
Kind Heart to Follow is a piece of musical literature that is appropriately closed out by an “Untitled Epilog.” Track nine encompasses the overall sound of this album lyrically and especially musically. The song is a journey about political change. A declaration on the state of government and the effects that politics is having on society. “From the looks of all this rain / I guess a change is gonna come.” Throughout history, songs of political change have been sung. With strong feelings and beliefs, people can become passionate. With passion comes different perspectives. Nolan writes, “Untitled Epilog” is mostly about how emotions can really influence perspective, and how it’s difficult to understand if that really matters.” From Woody Guthrie, to The Beatles, to Springsteen, his song that is actually a wry and somewhat caustic commentary on the hypocrisy of patriotism. Nolan hits the nail on the head here as “The Times They Are a-Changin” with his “Untitled Epilog.”
Kind Heart to Follow is a special album made by a very special talent. Josh Nolan’s work on this production is nothing less than genius from top to bottom. Nolan played a solo set recently in Tulsa at the Mercury Lounge. The crowd was in awe throughout the entire playlist, and maybe even shocked at the sounds coming from his guitar early on in the show. Tulsa fell in love with Josh Nolan that night. I suspect that the rest of the world will do the same, if given the chance.
Album photography courtesy of Diane Villadsen: instagram.com/dianewithonen