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Montgomery Eldorado Reviews

Scott Nolan recently released a new album called Montgomery Eldorado. At the moment, I'm thinking that this Winnipeg-based fella might take on the world. His warm, honest approach to roots rock music might make it seem like he's simply pulling out songs from a hat, and maybe he is, but I'd be willing to bet that Nolan labours over his his well-wrought tunes. Well-recorded without being over-polished, rough and ragged yet easy on the ears, Nolan has pulled off a magic trick all of his own. He's not afraid to throw in some overt soul and funk flavours (My My Hey Hey), he enjoys covering junkyard genius Tom Waits songs, and he's got people like Hayes Carll covering his tunes (Bad Liver and a Broken Heart). I told Nolan's record label guy a while back that I think Scott Nolan would have a nice long career, and he grinned and gave the succinct reply: "Yeah. We think so too

Scruffy the Yak

On a tribute to the late Winnipeg music scene veteran Ernie Blackburn, You Rock We Roll, Scott Nolan reminds us, "It's not the singer, it's the song." The words are apt in general, and perfectly suit Nolan's case, too. The 36-year-old Winnipegger is an extremely talented songwriter with a knack for melody, arrangements and lyrics, but possesses a unique, one-of-a-kind nasally-twang of a voice that takes some getting used to.

A few spins of his new album should make most people believers, though.

Nolan and a who's who of local musicians offer up 10 tracks of varied roots n' roll with some soulful heartbreak (Trial Separation), funk (My My Hey Hey) and some blues (Ain't Dead Yet, featuring guest vocals by the Holmes Brothers) to boot. Travel and road experiences are a common thread, but no matter what Nolan's singing about, the material is universally strong with Poor Man's Holiday, the horn-driven Sometimes and You Rock We Roll serving as the album's highlights.

Montgomery Eldorado isn't a real town, but the album is one worth visiting.

-- Rob Williams
Winnipeg Free Press


Nolan was working on an uptempo follow-up to No Bourbon and Bad Radio when he and drummer Joanna Miller happened upon an opportunity to work with Gurf Morlix, the guitar-playin' producer who helmed Romi Mayes' last release. The result of their five-day session is an album that recalls the quietest moods of Kris Kristofferson and John Prine. There's depth in these slow-moving grooves, and Morlix, Miller and Nolan are wisely content to let the tunes unfold once they've hit upon the essence of each. Opener Bad liver/Broken Heart, delivered in Nolan's whispered drawl and punctuated by keening pedal steel, offers a commentary on life that informs much of this album: "You come in clean and leave torn apart, with a bad liver and a broken heart." Over the course of the next nine songs and 32 or so minutes, Nolan and his cohorts explore that mournful lament to its fullest.

John Kendle

Roots vet Scott Nolan has proved he can rock out, but his latest album is a restrained offering that evokes both the windblown prairie, where he was raised, and Texas, where it was recorded with producer Gurf Morlix (Lucinda Williams/Mary Gauthier).

Receiver/Reflector is filled with hushed tones, subdued drumming from Joanna Miller and slow grooves. For his part, Morlix helps out with the occasional pedal-steel flourish or guitar solo, but never oversteps his welcome.

There are glimpses of Nolan's more rambunctious spirit sprinkled throughout, most notably on the country shuffle of Open Spaces, the mid-tempo look back at love gone wrong on All Over Now and rollicking album closer Thirsty Thursday, but for the most part, the talented multi-instrumentalist sticks to slower tempos and sparse arrangements that allow his strong storytelling skills to take centre stage.

Nolan says he crafted the album as a cohesive whole to fit one mood. Mission accomplished

Rob Williams
Winnipeg Free Press


STYLE: Rootsy ruminations on ruined romance.

SUBSTANCE: There are songs that are made to be played on bright Sunday mornings over brunch, or to be blasted out of the car on the way to the beach. Those are not the sort of songs Scott Nolan serves up on his latest album No Bourbon and Bad Radio. Admittedly, the singer-guitarist with the high-lonesome drawl can crank up the amps and dish out his share of raw-boned Crazy Horse roots-rock or raucous hillbilly boogie. But for the most part, Nolan prefers to turn down the lights, pour another shot and hang out at the smoky end of the bar drinking to forget. But forgetting the dark beauty of his melodies, the world-weary sadness of his lyrics and the lazy, no-frills vibe of his songs is easier said than done. Even if you might want to leave them off the brunch menu.

STANDOUTS: Daytime Moon's Jamaican lilt and shoo-wop vocals add a little Caribbean spice to the proceedings, while the gnarly blues of the title cut is a winking toast to a local watering-hole that shall remain nameless but rhymes with Hella Mista.

Darryl Sterdan
Winnipeg Sun

A former hired gun for such bands as Nathan and the New Meanies deservedly steps into the spotlight.

He may be a relative unknown right now, but Scott Nolan should soon be recognized as a laid-back master of steady pacing ó one who knows when itís time for taste and restraint and when itís time to take his foot off the brake.

Singing with easygoing nonchalance and weary but not entirely dissatisfied vocals, Nolan opens No Bourbon and Bad Radio with the driving yet wistful "Golden," pouring out a timeless take on lost love and regret. It quickly spills over into the equally melancholy "Sad Story/Beautiful Song" before moving into the country-calypso of "Daytime Moon."

At this point, just as youíve slotted this album into the mellow, rainy day category, Nolan jams his foot down on the accelerator for the gritty telecaster twang of "Right on the Wrong Time." Itís a serious mood-swing that reappears regularly from there on in, ending the CD with the raucous title track and leaving the listener with no doubt Ė this is not some sad-bastard blues-roots-country record, but a testament to a very well-rounded songwriter.

Rick Overwater

The title song is an ode to the Bella Vista Pizzeria, and itís a boozy, bluesy set-closer that should become the placeís anthem. Fun as it is, that tune may be the slightest on this album, which sees Nolan situate his speak/sing drawl amid some soulful, rootsy playing courtesy of Joanna Miller, Damon Mitchell and Sky Onosson. Sad Story/Beautiful Song is perhaps his finest effort to date, a lovelorn lament with a deceptively breezy melody. Daytime Moon similarly brings a ska/reggae vibe to a song in which prairie sunsets hasten the impending end of a romance. Elsewhere, Cold Cold Change hangs bitterness on icy, Chris Isaak-like reverb, while Right on the Wrong Time is a spry, uptempo two-step. Most of these tunes can be read as sad, but this is far from a morose record. Like a gnarled old bluesman, Nolan finds peace in letting his heart loose in song, just as he exults in playing at a neighbourhood joint that feels like home ó even if it has no bourbon and pipes in bad radio. ó

John Kendle


Winnipeg is the centre of North America and was the historical hub of Canada. Much has gone through this unassuming city over the years. Indeed, the current music scene simmers with wonderful diversity. Scott Nolan emerges from this hearty stew with ingredients from the many travels and Postcards provides glimpses of what Nolan has soaked up. "Famous in Texas" reflects well on the songwriters of that state, while Neil Young echoes in his compatriot's voice, particularly in "Leavin' Vegas" and Charlie Daniels serves merely as a template to the gritty tale of "Clint Duty." Nolan sheds shards of light on the characters he paints ("Corinna Sad Eyes") in the scuzzy bars of this transient's town. Great backing players fill out his strong songwriting, which will serve him well on his next tour of the back alleys and dark corners. (Independent)

Carol Harrison

The long-awaited debut record from Winnipeg's Scott Nolan is a twangy testament to the strength of the Winnipeg roots scene. At it's best - and most of this album could be considered that - Nolan's songwriting is a loving nod to it's vintage country and blues roots, enhanced by his wickedly wry, clever lyrics and fresh delivery. "Famous in Texas" is a cheeky, irrestiable little ditty. "Three Shades of Blue" moseys along with its deceptively lovely melody and "Clint Duty" is a fiery toe-tapper. While Nolan's acerbic quaint drawl and deft rhythm guitar hold the album together, contributions from a horde of Winnipeg's finest players - New Meanies guitarist Damon Mitchell, the D. Rangers, Rudimentale vocalist Sarah Dugas - give the record depth and colour, not to mention an engaging community vibe.

Mellissa Martin
UPTOWN Magazine

POINTED COMMENTS: A memorable picture. A simple message. And a few licks that put a stamp on the whole affair to bring it home. Eclectic rootster Scott Nolan could hardly have come up with a more apt title for his winning solo debut. It's plucky 13 tracks are snapshots of Nolan's musical wanderlust, which take him from raucous roots-rock to high lonesome folk to twangy blues to willy-nilly hillbilly boogie and back. All the while, his distinctive nasal rasp and whip smart whimsical lyrics show he's just as concerned with what he's saying as what he's playing. Nolan's world is a nice place to visit.

Darryl Sterdan
Winnipeg Sun

It's a hard row to hoe when your reputation precedes you. One of the most hotly anticipated local releases was the latest from root-rocker Scott Nolan. On Postcards, Nolan comes out swinging with "Dark and Lonely", a rollicking Ramblin song. Now that he has your attention, he follows that up with a slow cooker before rocking the house with "Famous in Texas". Like a good baseball pitcher, Nolan skillfully mixes things up, such as including yet another mix of "Leaving Vegas". Just by tweaking the arrangement a little, Nolan changes the mood of the song from the original version on Motel 75. That's a testament to Scott Nolan's song writing, which reveals a lot of prairie dirt under his fingernails and highway miles under his wheels.

Broose Tulloch
Stylus Magazine

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