Eric Nolan - Mood Swing (2014)

Eric Nolan
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Eric Nolan spent the better part of three decades working for some of the best vocal talent that the cities of Cleveland and Detroit had to offer. Nolan, himself a Clevelander, served as the third member of that city’s first group of Soul, The O’Jays. He joined the group in 1995, and even sang background with Eddie Levert and his late son Gerald on their Father & Son tour.

Nolan worked as a background singer for Dennis Edwards when the former Temptation embarked on his solo career in the mid-1980s. Nolan then moved to Detroit, living there for four years and singing with Jeanie Lyles in a duet called E&J before returning to C-Town to work with the Levert family, while going into production and co-writing songs for Uncle Charlie Wilson.

Eric Nolan spent the better part of three decades working for some of the best vocal talent that the cities of Cleveland and Detroit had to offer. Nolan, himself a Clevelander, served as the third member of that city’s first group of Soul, The O’Jays. He joined the group in 1995, and even sang background with Eddie Levert and his late son Gerald on their Father & Son tour.

Nolan worked as a background singer for Dennis Edwards when the former Temptation embarked on his solo career in the mid-1980s. Nolan then moved to Detroit, living there for four years and singing with Jeanie Lyles in a duet called E&J before returning to C-Town to work with the Levert family, while going into production and co-writing songs for Uncle Charlie Wilson.

Well before Nolan stood next to Eddie Levert and Walter Williams or 20 feet from Edwards, he first embarked on making his name as a vocalist by singing in a local group called The Deltones. Now, Nolan realizes his dream of becoming a solo performer with the release of his new album Mood Swing.

In keeping with Nolan’s apprenticeship with The O’Jays and Edwards, most of the tracks on Mood Swing deal with that many splendored thing called romantic love and highs and lows of relationships. There are a couple of exceptions: One is a loving cover of a tune from Detroit’s first family of gospel – The Winans. Nolan lends his soft tenor that flows into falsetto range on “When You Cry,” one of The Winans’ best gospel ballads, and a tune that needs to be played more often. Kudos to Nolan for reaching into The Winans’ catalog to give a straight forward and heartfelt rendition of one of the best songs from the Teddy Riley produced album Return.

Nolan also departs from the lover man script on the appropriately titled statement of purpose cut that opens the album, “Do My Thang.” The lyrics for this fun, funky and brassy rollicking number describe a man fully prepared to step from the background and own the spotlight. The track comes in at a full 7:23, but “Do My Thang” never meaders or bogs down and Nolan and his band hit listeners with a little James Brown vibe.

Still, if a vocalist spends time working with the likes of the Levert family and Dennis Edwards, he’s going to know how to sing a love song, and Nolan proves that he knows a little something about old fashioned romance as well as seductive bedroom anthems on Mood Swing.

“Reminds Me” is a mid tempo steppers tune that finds Nolan expounding on all of the wonderful things that remind him of his significant other. “Like a seat in first class/With a champagne glass/It reminds me of you/Or like some brand new clothes/From the finest store/It reminds me of you/Every now and then I ask myself/Did I stumble up on heaven’s angel/Do I understand what I really got here/I thought about it girl and this is what I came up with/Everything in this world that’s good/It reminds me of you/And everything that makes me feel good/It reminds me of you.’

Studying at the School of Levert means that Nolan is in his element on those blue-light-in-the-basement numbers such as “I Can Love You,” a tune where he shows that smooth vocals, lyrics that are sensual without being explicit and great musical arrangements are the elements for a great R&B love ballad.

Nolan’s years of apprenticeship and then partnership with some of soul music’s best balladeers has paid off richly. Mood Swing is the kind of record that’s tough to find in 2014. A legitimate adult soul album that is ideal for setting the mood. Recommended.

By Howard Dukes

 
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