NOLAN: No Visible Scars"'3 Times On the Shoulder,' off of Nolan's 'Subject To Flooding' tied with Rilo Kiley's 'Spectacular Views' as my favorite single of the year. I listen to that song at least once a week..." -- Bobby J, Mr T Experience.
"Super hushed, good-guy vocals. Spewed out fragile 2 and a half minute confessionals about relationships (good and bad), growing up, memories, fastballs and other assorted confusing things. Nolan can rock the emo but is not emo. He can lay down the folk but isn't exactly folky. He sometimes rocks with a band but does it in an almost heartbreakingly lonely way. He ain't pop. What the hell is he?" -- Kevin Seconds, 7 Seconds
For a singer/songwriter who writes a diary into every song, it gets awkward when parents are in the audience.
"No, dad, I'm not going to kill myself," Sacramento's singularly named Nolan found himself explaining after his father heard "This Is Me," a song written from the perspective of a child struggling with his self-image.
But you can forgive a dad for worrying. With his expressive, vulnerable voice and intimate lyrics, Nolan paints vivid pictures of his life.
"I tend to write like diary entries," he says, "so the songs are usually inspired by someone I knew or some event I went through, good or bad." Nolan is working on a new CD of original material at his Volume 11 Studios in Sacramento.
"The songs I'm writing are kind of fitting into three piles right now -- some stuff with just the vocals and acoustic guitar, some with the full band and then there's a group of songs about being pissed off at girls."
The final product may be released as three EPs, or one well-rounded album with a mix of acoustic songs and full band material.
Nolan's "Subject to Flooding" CD, released in 2002, features a combination of loud rock songs and more introspective acoustic material. The album, which has received strong reviews in Sacramento, features guest appearances by former Cake bassist Victor Damiani and Far drummer Chris Robyn. Deathray front man Dana Gumbiner contributes backing vocals, keyboards and drum programming, and also co-produced "Subject to Flooding."
"Working with Dana was fun," Nolan says. "We listen to many of the same bands, so when we were working on songs, I'd say, 'This part should sound sort of like how The Replacements might do it,' and he'd know exactly what I was talking about. We really were able to communicate well." Nolan's catalog also includes "No Visible Scars," a stripped-down acoustic album released in 2001.
"The first album was recorded in a living room over a few weekends," Nolan says. "It's me and a guitar, and there's not a whole lot else on that record."
Except for the songs. The CD features very strong material, including "This Is Me," "If You See Me" and "4 a.m. in Texas," an acoustic cover of the punk song by 7 Seconds. Some of the songs reappeared as full band renditions on "Subject to Flooding."
Nolan's songwriting takes many forms. "I don't have a process," he says. "Either I'll sit down and start to write a song about a particular person or event and it sort of writes itself in about 20 minutes, or I'll write a hook and a few lines and then come back to it and write it out over time."
Some songs are tailored to the band approach and others work better as solo numbers. "Some songs I can hear the band arrangement in my head right away, so I'll write it that way, then I'll adjust it to be an acoustic version so I can play it that way as well," Nolan says. "Sometimes, songs just don't lend themselves to the other style."
During breaks from his own work, he engineers recordings for other singer/songwriters and indie rock bands. He also operates South of Shasta Productions, a multimedia production firm which specializes in building Web sites, including Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes' official fan site. Nolan, whose version of "The Nude" is featured on the Catherine Wheel tribute CD, "Too Much Is Not Enough," performs often in Sacramento and surrounding areas, with and without a band.
Check out the artist's website:
1. This Is Me
2. If You See Me
3. Scout's Honor
4. 4am In Texas
5. I Stand
6. The Next Time You Fly
7. Here's To Fastballs
8. Goodnight, Goodnight