Salim Nourallah – Constellation

January 01, 1970



Salim Nourallah may be pop’s best-kept secret,
a consequence of the fact that he’s responsible for some of the most enticing music
of the decade, and yet he’s still all but unknown. Operating out of the
relatively quiet confines of Dallas, Texas, which also happens to be the
birthing place for sometime collaborators the Old 97s and Rhett Miller’s
individual activities, Nourallah has accumulated an ongoing catalog of worthy releases,
from his early efforts with brother Faris under the guise of the Nourallah
Brothers and their sole eponymous album, to his more upbeat outings with his
bands the Happiness Factor and the Polaroids – the albums Self Improvement? and Pleasantry Lane,


Fortunately though, it’s not too late for the
uninitiated because two recent releases give ample opportunity to get to know
Nourallah.  An outtakes compilation, Ciphers From Snowing, is well worth
investigation, even if its tracks were recorded in ’06 and ‘07.  Mostly mellow, its pulsating rhythms
complement themes of earnest contemplation. 
Still, to get a real feel for Nourallah’s pop prowess, its best to fast
forward to his latest opus, Constellation,
an album that showcases his keen melodic prowess and ability to craft songs
that are quietly but consistently compelling. 
Nourallah’s wistful, occasionally woozy vocals and slightly circumspect
song style bring frequent comparison to Ray Davies and the Kinks, as evidenced
on the lovely “Western Hills” and the sweet, softly tinted “Pictures Collected,”
which borrows both its title and theme of nagging nostalgia from “Picture
Book,” originally recorded for the Kinks’ classic Village Green Preservation Society


No matter though; Nourallah’s ability to tap
that template finds him meshing gentle sentiment and poignant, plaintive
desire.  “Stranger in My Own Skin,” “In
the Blink of an Eye,” “Don’t Mind Me,” and “Saint Georges” evoke an aura of
lofty ideals colliding with dashed expectations, as evidenced in the
descriptively dubbed “The Wrong Road.” 
“Do you ever get the feeling your life could have been something better,
more appealing from what it became?” he queries sadly.  Given the effusive beauty that radiates from
this wonderful Constellation, that’s
a question Nourallah needn’t worry himself with.

Standout Tracks: “Western Hills,”
“Pictures Collected,” “Saint Georges” LEE ZIMMERMAN


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