Americana and country singer Rosy Nolan hails from Northern California. While many may recognize that part of the country as the Bakersfield sound (Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, etc.), Nolan explores a softer, folksy sound in her latest album Footprints & Broken Branches (out September 28). Fans of Lucinda Williams and Rosanne Cash will agree, Rosy Nolan champions the stories so often heard from neighbors and Americans from all walks of life. Nolan explores the road far less traveled, and us listeners get the benefit.
The album release party will take place at The Hotel Café, located at 1623 North Cahuenga Boulevard, in Los Angeles. A cozy spot, The Hotel Café will be the ideal location for this singer/songwriter. Her voice and her music are a respite from the busy, bustling Los Angeles traffic.
Nolan’s previous albums are Phantom Hymns (2006) and Black Out Nights (2010). Both collections are different and have Nolan showcasing different ranges and tastes. Phantom is centered more in the country – pop rock realm, where Black Out Nights has Nolan branching out into the rock genre. Nolan’s artistic point-of-view in both are likable and entertaining in both these albums. But she seems to be more at home and have a snugger fit with Footprints & Broken Branches (not that her track “Nobody’s Fool” shouldn’t get a special shout out). The teaser songs “Heaven’s Name”, “Return to Spawn”, “Tumbleweed” and “Old Ravine” exudes a quieter confidence, but a mightier heart. The soul of these songs are Nolan’s stirring vocals. As she caresses her voice around the banjo’s twang, the listener is transfixed down a path of modest design. It’s easier to get lost in her commanding presence than it is to focus on the actual lyrics. That’s not a bad thing. At times her voice is ethereal, while other times it’s a melody like a singing sparrow.
Fans of strong story-telling will want to check out Nolan. She’s truly a lighthouse in the crowded Los Angeles indie music scene – her calming presence and traditional approach is a very welcomed change. So, how does Nolan stand out? Consistency. Her work is engaging and she commands a strong, confident state. She doesn’t need to flower her production or curtail to overproduced tracks. The simplicity in her work is refreshing. She’s brave for stripping down her artistry to the strings and things that make Americana – folk music so lovely. Admittedly, I wasn’t a huge fan of the banjo and traditional county music walking into this story.
Something about the way her voice tangles through the music bed reminds me of the many tapestries of music found in Ireland, America, England and more – Noland made me a fan. I was transformed by the moving sound, much like the soundtrack to a Ken Burns documentary or the rugged West. These are the songs that never die; they live in the generations after generations of music fans that carry on these traditional hymn-like songs. Nolan is the latest to carry the torch. Her light shines brightly.