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Jack Nolan | Dreams of Flying (Laughing Outlaw Records)
Laughing Outlaw's flood of releases over the last few months has been frustrating, to say the least. Real highs and lows - from the pop glory of Michael Carpenter and The Orange Humble Band (their Humblin' (Across America) assured 'lost classic' status), and the solid country of Jason Walker or Kim Cheshire, to the not-quite-but-nearly efforts of cackling bandits such as Jack Nolan. Much of Dreams of Flying is staggeringly ordinary, but there are a few sparkling enough moments worthy of attention, opener Over And Under in particular. From a fabulous string fanfare leaps a wonderful example of unashamedly romantic orchestrated pop, not a million air miles from The Divine Comedy, but fortunately minus the smugness. The second beaut from this Sydney resident is January Again, but I'd much rather hear Mark Kozelek's tear-inducing pipes wrapped around this than Nolan's strong, but unspectacular voice. It seems made for him to these ears. Madeline is groovy, uptempo acoustic pop, riddled with Chris Wilson's bouncy harmonica - straight outta the church attended by those of a poisoned mind. Your Only Crime, Jack, is that this song is Ben Folds-by-numbers (and drags on a bit), but that's forgivable, because Ben has a way with a tune and a Joanna. New Shoes could be the new Moody Blues single, but even then it's pretty fine in its grandiosity. Apart from the noted exceptions, Dreams of Flying is pretty much a standard Laughing Outlaw release to this point - inconsistent, but with promise.

Tom Sheriff
May-June 2002