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  • Bryon Harris

Nolen & Friends - 'Stick Around'

Reviewed by Aaron Cloutier & Staff

What struck me first about “Stick Around” from Nolen & Friends was the Bluegrass style of instrumentation. I’m a sucker for acoustic guitar and the way that they blend it with the use of mandolin creates some really satisfying textures. To my ear, it sounds like a stand up bass was used on the track and it almost goes without saying that the bass lines fit perfectly with the aforementioned instruments. The tones are both round and warm with clever lines dancing inside the frame work of some very solid drum work going on. I’m particularly enjoying the interplay between the ghost notes on the snare with the occasional walk down of the bass here and there.

Nolen’s vocals are sincere and emotive without being over the top which. as an over the top vocalist myself, is an extremely impressive thing to hear. He’s got a great sense of melody as each phrase is catchy and impressively navigated.

The lyrics are extremely well written and for me, were immediately relatable. The storytelling throughout is injected with humor and humility which makes for a really disarming feeling that allows the listener to settle in and follow the story along.

I was personally hooked by the first section of the verse.

“Well you know I get so nervous

And I'm sure that you've observed this upward shift in my inflection

I assure you that it's more of an exception, than a rule

Girl, what I mean to say to you is that the way my voice is shaking

That's not how I always sound

It has a lot to do, with the fact that you are around right now”

I was also partial to the comedic timing of this line.

“A girl like you ought to come with a warning

A big tattoo up in red on your forehead that says warning”

Check it out, you’ll see what I’m saying.

Musically, there’s a lot going on throughout without it being too much. The verse chord progressions have a more minor based tonality creating a slightly sad, almost yearning quality. This is nicely contrasted in the chorus where a sweet and gentle major tonality takes hold.

Rhythmically, there’s some really cool stuff going on as well. The majority of the song is in 6/8 which gives the feel of being out to sea on some sensitive guy pirate party barge. The bridge however, brings a nice rhythmic shift to a 4/4 meter briefly adopting a quasi reggae feel. The soothing quality of the music had me in a relaxed state so I really wasn’t expecting this change but it was a really nice surprise and a clever use of songwriting. The departure is brief and cleanses the palate before jumping back into the final chorus’ 6/8 meter

I feel like this song should be in a soundtrack to some Wes Anderson inspired romantic comedy somewhere. I feel like it’s perfect for it. It's musical and lyrically engagingon so many levels. Follow on Instagram

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About Nolen & Friends Nolen Ramminger is a singer songwriter in Denver, CO. Influenced by folk, punk, bluegrass and all sorts of sounds, Nolen & Friends' thoughtful tunes explore millennial perspectives on life and social issues.


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