Joe Nolan's 'Drifters' Is a Must-Listen for Fans of Stripped-Down Folk Songwriting

Joe Nolan's 'Drifters' Is a Must-Listen for Fans of Stripped-Down Folk Songwriting
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Drifters is Edmonton roots rocker Joe Nolan's acoustic compendium, but the title might mislead you. Because yes, it's about the ways we drift through life — but no, Nolan himself isn't drifting.

These recordings place him firmly on the must-listen list for any roots, folk or indie fan, with a deeply soulful album exploring the depths of the human experience. Here, we're introduced to an unpretentious, deeply thoughtful songwriter who writes music far beyond his years. Nolan trims the fat off his songs and, with a gently plucked guitar, offers a soundtrack to the highs and lows of life and love and the way we move through the world.

His blend of roots and folk is refreshingly un-jaded and full-bodied, offering hope and despair delivered with a warm, soft voice flecked with gravel but smooth as honey.

From the cheap red wine of "Rosie Marie's House" to the wheels that squeal on the tarmac, Nolan's writing surges to the forefront of each track, drawing immediate comparisons to Donovan Woods or other muses of melancholy. Safe to say John Prine would have approved.

In songs like "Jaguar" or "Tupelo," Nolan crafts fractured love into resonant anthems — if such a thing can be said about roots ballads. Much of the album is well constructed without the immediate pleasure of earworms — and he pulls it off.

These are songs gathered from Nolan's teen years, as well as the past few spent touring and releasing 2018's Cry BabyDrifters is 10 songs stripped to the bones. It's honest and unflinching. Wherever Nolan drifts next, you'll want to be there with him. (Fallen Tree)