It’s hard to believe it was only in 2011 that Joe Nolan released his debut album, Goodbye Cinderella. At that time he was heralded by this publication and others as a roots rock wunderkind, an opinion confirmed by his 2014 Colin Linden-produced follow-up, Tornado. However, along with the acclaim came complications at odds with his creative vision.
Now the Edmonton, Alberta native is back with Cry Baby — out Sept. 21 through joenolanmusic.com — an album that finally opens up what Nolan has kept locked tightly for the past three years. The 10-song collection is a trip through melancholic madness, touching on darkness and depression, broken relationships and endless booze-fuelled evenings. Yet, at its core is Nolan’s unwavering strength as a lyricist, and his wounded-heart delivery that reminds us of our humanity. Cry Baby is, in essence, Nolan unapologetically sharing his story, and through that finding a second chance and a new beginning.
If there’s a common thread to Cry Baby, it is indeed a sense of walking back from the edge and recapturing joy—and perhaps personal identity. It can be heard on the heart-wrenching “Music In The Streets” (featuring Lydia Loveless on backing vocals) in which two gun-shy lovers embark on a new relationship. It’s also there on “Dead Ends and a Damaged Heart” and “Stand Up For Your Love,” songs that carry more weight of experience than anyone Nolan’s age deserves. Still, it’s a weight he carries with dignity.
That feeling is certainly palpable on the new single “Breaking Up And Out,” and we are pleased to exclusively premiere its video that shows Nolan performing the song while taking care of some things on his daily to-do list.
“I’m feeling as if I’m becoming much more myself, and being true to who I am,” he says. “I have become a better listener and I have less fear of what people think. I am doing what I love, making music, and if I can continue to do that then for me, that’s success.”
Few songwriters consistently demonstrate such a willingness to venture deep into the dark corners of their psyches. With Cry Baby, Joe Nolan is now ready to live again after gazing into the void.