Josh Nolan’s Kind Heart to Follow is a must-play album

Josh Nolan looked like he was in his mid-20s and acted like he was in his early teens. For this particular summer weekend trip to Chicago in 2006 to see dozens of bands at Lollapalooza, both would see prominence. Thanks to the older side (plus the long, curly hair and the general overall demeanor of a rock and roll star), Josh would get stopped by would-be adoring fans, convinced he was in a band playing the festival. Thanks to the younger side, Josh would freeze at the attention, then tell them he was meeting friends at Taco Bell (TACO BELL!) before scurrying off down Michigan Avenue.

Oh, Josh.I honestly have no idea how old Josh was then, or now, as he’s a bit of an ageless wonder. That older/younger split remains, and will probably always remain, a part of the Josh Nolan experience. One moment you’re having deep discussions about chasing your dreams, moving to Cleveland (CLEVELAND!) to play music, the next you’re paying for his everything because he lost his traveler’s checks he packed in the plastic grocery bags being used as luggage.

Both sides merge into one on Josh’s new album Kind Heart to Follow (out May 17), as a youthful, spirited sense of joy – that feeling of someone young making SOMETHING, wanting EVERYTHING – is immediate from the first notes. That’s always been the best part of hearing Josh’s music or seeing him on stage – he’s clearly having fun and wants you to join him.

That has sometimes masked his writing, though, as he seemed to want to hide behind this carefree exterior to cover for the words that were coming from his mouth. On his solid debut, Fair City Lights, Josh often felt like a boy wearing his daddy’s clothes, hoping one day to grow into a better fit.

By the time you get to this line on the second song (“Kein Hirte”), the fit is perfect:

“She was looking for a savior, but I couldn’t take her in

Jesus walked on water, but I can’t even swim.”

I love every note, every word, every part of this album. I love that Josh quit holding back, stopped masking his desires and reached for something bigger than what he thought was in him. 

This is the album of a guy who quit trying to be Bruce Springsteen and started being Josh Nolan.

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