CD Review of Snowing in My Heart by Salim Nourallah
Recommended if you like
Wilco, Radiohead, Damien Jurado
Salim Nourallah:
Snowing in My Heart

Reviewed by Jeff Giles


t was released last September, but a small German label did the honors, so that doesn’t really count – and anyway, if there was ever a record tailor-made for gloomy January mornings, it’s Salim Nourallah’s Snowing in My Heart, so how about we pretend it’s just coming out now?

His name might sound like a Pashto epithet (it’s true – try screaming it while waving a gun around), but Nourallah is actually a minor power pop deity from Dallas; he’s released albums on the Paisley Pop label, toured with Rhett Miller, and produced a slew of fine albums at his Pleasantry Lane studio. You’ve probably never heard of him, but don’t beat yourself up about it too much; you’re in the same boat as pretty much everyone else. It’s one of the many daily injustices we deal with in exchange for breathing.

As you may have already guessed, Snowing in My Heart isn’t going to do Nourallah’s commercial profile any favors – after all, it’s been out for months, and you still don’t own a copy – but this is in no way reflective of the album’s quality. If you’ve ever wondered what it would sound like if the Nick Lowe of 1982 made a baby with Jeff Tweedy and Thom Yorke, these 12 songs are probably as close as you’re ever going to get to an answer.

What’s that, you say? You’ve never wondered any such thing? Yeah, you and everyone else. But the end result goes down surprisingly smooth – the songs are just as somber as you’d expect from the album’s title, and the wintry vibe is only enhanced by all the electronic gewgaws strewn across the arrangements (not to mention Nourallah’s frayed, wobbly vocals), but Nourallah is too much of an old-school pop fiend to ever let his songs slip off the verse-chorus-verse tether, or go more than a few minutes without busting out a sticky hook.

It should go without saying that this probably isn’t the kind of thing you’ll want to play in the car, but if you’ve got the time to sit and really listen to some well-written pop songs, Snowing in My Heart will go a long way toward keeping your iPod warm this winter. Nourallah perfectly balances the album’s downward gaze with a quiet-but-steady sense of hope, reflected in titles like “Hang On,” “It’s Okay to Be Sad,” and “Don’t Be Afraid” – and buoys the whole thing with smart, solidly crafted arrangements. It all adds up to another understated gem from an artist with a career full of them. Trading healthy sales for critical kudos must get old after a while, but Nourallah’s commercial loss is his (and our) artistic gain. Sample some of his wares here, and then do yourself a favor and get to buyin’.

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