Gabriel is Jack Nolan’s fifth solo album, and the first album he’s yielded to someone he trusted enough to produce: This is an album that mines its own carefully sculpted acoustic world with a profoundly atmospheric sense of place, and a depth of self-knowledge that speaks of arrival after a lifetime of sometimes hard, sometimes tender experience.
The genesis, Gabriel came to Jack a few years ago, sat at his side on a long desert drive that he wasn’t sure he’d come back from. The title track, in its own unhurried and roundabout way, eventually found itself in Nashville, USA, on an album completed just before COVID-19 wrought its havoc on the world.
Atonement is upfront in titles like The Hopeless Son and Restitution Song. Others — Tomorrow Came, Faster Than the Speed of Change, A Fool Would Follow Me — are deeper stocktakes, songs from life’s rear view mirror. Ghosts of people and places and other, maybe darker things, receding for sure, but too close to ignore.
Produced by Justin Weaver and captured on two-inch tape in the aptly named ‘Welcome to 1979’ Studios by engineer Chris Mara, the assembled band included drummer Jimmy Paxson, bassist Chris Autry, keys player Phil Towns and pedal steel player David Spires who were joined by backup singers Terri Lynn Weaver & Siobhan Maher Kennedy. Justin himself applied the deeply textured lead and electric guitars.
Gabriel, is a CD offering up evocative, ethereal stories, perhaps best signalled on the album’s title track, with Nolan singing “Endless lanes /endless cars // In the absence /of stars” reminding us of this new world, turned on its axis in 2020/21.