As a veteran of the local scene, Salim Nourallah has worked with an eclectic array of artists, many of whom have passed through the doors of his Pleasantry Lane Studios. You’ll see his name on the credits of albums by Old 97’s, Deathray Davies and Nicholas Altobelli, and it’s likely you’ve seen him up onstage at various local venues, working either as a backing musician or taking center stage himself. And if you’ve read our publication for any length of time, you’ve come across various interviews and profiles of Nourallah as he digs deep into various projects.
This month finds Nourallah embarking on his latest musical journey. On Sept. 28, he’s releasing his seventh studio album, Somewhere South of Sane, an epic double-album centered on delicate and disconcerting topics like the troubling American political climate, the dissolution of a marriage and the personal disarray that accompanies the often solitary life of an artist at work. The 21 tracks that compose Somewhere South of Sane are what Nourallah admits is “the work of a functional crazy person.”
“Spending a lifetime dedicated to any form of writing is a particular form of madness," he says. "Especially in the face of the unlikely event that you will ever see much or any monetary compensation.”
Though the general theme of the song cycle tends to shade toward dark and melancholy matters, Nourallah is cognizant of the pacing. Stark and haunting solo ballads fit in alongside jangly, Beatles-esque melodic charmers and mystical, psychedelic jams. It’s truly the work of someone comfortable enough in his musical chops to cross genres and hop around with differing forms and techniques.
As the calendar tilts closer to the album release date, the Dallas Observer is proud to debut “February 23,” a slow-building standout track that will likely demand a lot of repeated spins from listeners. It’s a song, that both in structure and in lyrical content, fits in with Nourallah’s influences.
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“I cut, pasted, and moved Nick Earl’s electric guitar parts around like an avant-garde art piece experiment,” Nourallah says. “I think it creates a disconcerting effect. The effect is deliberate. It is, in my estimation, the sonic re-enactment of two separate relationships with women who shared the same birthdate of February 23. One relationship was my marriage, which lasted just past a decade, and the other was quite brief.”
While a gentle, finger-picked guitar melody anchors the base of the song’s three-plus minutes, Nourallah quietly recites lyrics that seem to express frustration, anger and hints of confusion. Appropriately enough, the song proved equally frustrating to compose.
“I struggled with writing my notes for 'February 23' more than any other song on (the album),” Nourallah adds. “I dreaded it, then flat-out avoided it. While I enjoyed the process for most of these songs, it was the opposite for this one.”
Check out "February 23” in its entirety in the link below. You can also follow Nourallah on Facebook and Twitter, as well as purchase Somewhere South of Sane (with multiple bonus options) when it releases Sept. 28 via Palo Santo Records. For more information, visit Nourallah's website.