Sydney musician and songwriter Jack Nolan has released his fourth solo album, Our Waverley Star and single, All The Stars Are For You via Quay Records / MGM.
Recorded at Electric Avenue in Sydney and High Quality Recordings in Nashville, Our Waverley Star was produced by Jack Nolan – with additional production on the Nashville sessions by Mike Poole. Nolan had sought Poole out after hearing his studio work on albums like Robert Plant's Grammy-nominated Band of Joy, Patty Griffin's American Kid, and Buddy Miller's The Majestic Silver Strings.
Nolan, who was also part of The Kelly Gang with Rick Grossman, has unveiled the album gradually, dropping a single a month for the last 8 months. The final single offering is the hauntingly beautiful All the Stars Are for You. Along with exquisite mandolin from Bob Stamper, Jack Nolan's lyrics and finger-picked playing on a resonator guitar have what he calls "a fairy tale feeling, like sending a thought letter and hoping it's received." All the Stars Are for You conjures up references to jasmine, magpies, a boy no longer home, with very fine slide guitar pulling the song warmly to an end. Nolan says "it's about me as a three-year old asthmatic, sitting in my mother's lap, counting stars to help get me through the night. She'd get me to do that to get over bad attacks."
Shimmering, tense, solitary, tender… these are words that spring to mind upon listening to Our Waverley Star now. Despite a genre tag like 'Americana', it remains a very Australian record, a profoundly Sydney set of songs, rooted in Nolan's upbringing by the beaches of Bronte and Bondi and the flow of life around Circular Quay and the Harbour.
On Our Waverley Star, you can feel the water and sky that defines Sydney. Lyrically the relationship is powerful and direct. Musically, Nolan relates his soundscapes to the spacious atmospheres of a Daniel Lanois recording like Dylan's Time Out of Mind, and the sonic layers conjured across Robert Plant's rootsy, yet hyper-modern solo albums. This is big, deep music for grownups who know what life and art can be about in all its pain and beauty.
"I'd never felt I belonged in any genre before, but I slowly realised my song-writing, and the sounds that attracted me, the playing, all fitted into what people described as 'Americana'. It was like finding a home. Over the years, we'd refer to our style as the 'Darlinghurst country' sound," Nolan laughs, "but Australia lacks that acoustic history of mandolin and steel guitar that is synonymous with small town American music history. I wanted to get some of that texture and sound into Our Waverley Star."