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Jack Nolan - Dreams Of Flying

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 6 / 8 / 2002

Jack Nolan - Dreams Of Flying
Label: Laughing Outlaw
Format: CD


"Classy album of classic pop songs" from genre-defying Sydney-based Australian solo artist, Jack Nolan

There should be a warning issued with this CD stating that it is practically impossible to eject it from the CD player once it is in there. Not that there is a manufacturing fault with the disc, it is just that when the last strains of the closing track, a single edit of 'Madeline', fade away the arm suddenly loses all motion and seems to lack the couple of inches needed to reach the eject button. The reason for this is clear. The opening 20 seconds of the first track, ‘Over And Under’, demands to be heard again. Once those few seconds have been heard, it is hard to resist playing the album in its entirety all over again. Remember the opening few seconds of The Beach Boys ‘California Girls’ or The Verve’s ‘Bitter Sweet Symphony’? How you knew that something good and special just had to evolve from hearing those first few opening bars the very first time you heard them? That is how it is with ‘Over And Under’. Whoever thought of programming this album, the second from Sydney born and bred Jack Nolan, is a genius. It sums up all that is good about the songs of Jack Nolan in that one opening track. Nolan’s dreamy vocals, his way of penning extremely catchy tunes, and his talent of coupling personal lyrics to melodies which lodge in the brain and stay there forever are all apparent in those first 3 minutes and 45 seconds, which is the best opening song to an album I have heard in quite some time. The second track, ‘Three Dimensional’, carries on in this uplifting vein with another gorgeous melody and dreamlike backing vocals. With what sounds like a melotron (although one is not listed in the credits so it must be another instrument) adding to the texture, it’s another stunning slab of thoughtful, well-crafted pop music. When what sounds like some ‘Penny Lane’ horns come in it lifts up the saddest of days and adds a psychedelic feel to the song. It is in the way that Nolan almost mumbles the line “You will know” before this break which highlights the beauty in his vocals. It’s a simple line sung in such a way, like an afterthought, but carries so much feeling it’s heartstopping. If the way Alison Moyet sung the line “and anyway” in ‘Nobody’s Diary’ meant anything to you (again the simplicity of the words and the way they are sung implying so much more) try checking out this track for the same feeling. It’s everything pop music should be. Things slow down some for track three, ‘January Again’, Nolan’s acoustic guitar this time picking out the melody while he turns in what are probably his strongest vocals on the album. The strings on this track conveying the sadness in the lyrics perfectly. Before the mood gets too mellow, however, the opening harmonica of the following track, ‘Madeline’, gets the heart racing again and the feet moving. Again Nolan’s neat way with words show up in this song, “She’s desperately beautiful, In a manic sort of way, Opportunity knocks, but she throws it all away”. All set to a tune which make it impossible to sit still. And that is something that I’ve noticed with this album. The most miserable of sods have had their moods lifted by the more uptempo songs on offer here. Feet start tapping which have not been moved to do so by a record for a good while. “Who is this?” is a question I have been asked by people who normally have little or no interest in what music is playing or who is performing it. It really does have that power of getting itself noticed. Some of this must be because Nolan can’t be easily grouped into any particular genre. Quite where it fits into Laughing Outlaw’s two main categories of Alt Country or Power Pop is unclear. Nolan certainly can’t be grouped into Alt Country, or too easily into the Power Pop genre. Maybe his label should add a special Jack Nolan section to their headline now. On the evidence of this album they are going to need it. Quite simply Jack Nolan has produced a classy album of classic pop songs with thought provoking lyrics we can all identify with. It’s confident, melodic pop music. I can’t stop playing this album, and for once I’m not met with any objections from those around me when it is blasting out of the speakers which shows the album’s universal appeal. Six months into the year and I’ll be very surprised if I hear another album which is so consistently good during the second half of the year. Album of the year so far? For sure.

Track Listing:-
1 Over & Under
2 Three Dimensional
3 January Again
4 Madeline
5 Your Only Crime
6 Dreams Of Flying
7 New Shoes
8 Ballerine Babies
9 The First Time
10 Colours Of The World

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