Singer/songwriter, Jess Nolan has released her debut EP, Strike a Match and is letting us get to know her and the EP a little better. She is being featured all this week on our local Nashville independent radio station Lightning 100, WRLT. A little bio… Jess is from New Jersey and is now living in Nashville. Her love for music started at a young age, learning to play the piano and creating and shaping her own voice when she was just thirteen. She has this amazing ability to captivate you with her voice and listening to the piano in the background brings this jazzy-crooner feel of nostalgia and self-discovery.
In a bit of irony, I listened to her new single “Your Gravity” as I was flying around 30,000 feet in the air, headed across the country in a plane. I immediately had memories of Carole King and Joni Mitchell, more recently Sara Bareilles. It is no reason she has named them her biggest influence on her sound and music. Her lyrics full of conviction and raw emotion. My personal favorite on this EP is “Stuck in Your Head”. I can hear her certainty and sincerity through the jazzy energy she creates in the words and music.
The singer/songwriter has added another talent to her resume as well. Jess got into oil painting after her grandmother, who painted with oils, passed away. You can check it out on her new EP cover. This woman is incredibly talented, but I believe she also works hard at what she wants to accomplish. Check out our conversation down below to see what she says about the new EP. If you can, I would definitely recommend watching her perform at some local places in the next few days and weeks, listed below…
Tell us a bit about you. Where are you from?
My name’s Jess Nolan. I’m a 23-year-old pop/soul singer-songwriter based in Nashville, TN. I grew up in Highland Park, a small town in central New Jersey. My town was about a square mile wide and my public HS graduating class was less than 100 kids. Then I attended the Frost School of Music, as part of the Bruce Hornsby Creative American Music program at the University of Miami in Florida for 4 years. I graduated in May 2015 and then moved to Nashville a little over a year ago.
How did you get into music?
I’ve always loved music from a young age. I did all the musicals in middle and high school, was a part of the choir, and took piano lessons. Around the age of 13, I began to take in interest in creating my own music. I loved writing, singing, and playing piano so creating little pop songs came very easy to me.
How would you describe your sound?
As my taste in music developed, so did my sound. Growing up I listened to Alicia Keys and Sara Bareilles religiously. Then when I started college, I discovered writers like Carole King and Joni Mitchell. I’m heavily influenced by soul music and value the importance of a thoughtful lyric.
What can we expect with your EP, “Strike a Match” release?
I’m releasing my debut EP “Strike a Match” on 9/9 and I’ll also be featured as Lightning 100’s Local Artist of the Week from 9/5-9. The album release show is on 9/9 at Soulshine Pizza at 7pm. Free admission and all ages. I also have other shows in the coming weeks: Acme Feed & Seed, 9/16, 5-7pm & The Basement, 9/19, 8pm
Walk me through writing “Your Gravity”. What is the story?
I wrote the single that Lightning 100 will be spinning, “Your Gravity”, about a year and a half ago. It was in my senior year of college, and I was going through a lot emotionally about my path in life. All the songs on the EP were written during that year of growth and change. The lyrics basically tell a story about a change in perspective about a past relationship. Sometimes when we’re in the midst of a bad relationship, we can’t see all of the messed up ways we are being treated. Taking a step back and reflecting on this relationship that ended was how I wrote the song.
Where is your favorite place to watch live music in Nashville?
There are so many incredible places to see music in Nashville! I’m a huge fan of the vibe at The Family Wash. Also love the Basement East and 3rd & Lindsley. I’ve seen a few writers’ rounds at Bluebird Cafe and there’s really no other venue like it for songwriters.
Who influences you, your music?
Joni Mitchell has probably been my greatest inspiration in life so far. Her music, lyrics, spirit. She is a painter and did some of her own album artwork. My grandmother who passed a couple of years ago was a painter as well so I took up painting last year. I painted the self-portrait with oil paint for the EP album cover, sort of paying homage to Joni and my grandma.
Nashville Show Dates and Times:
9/9 Album Release Show, Soulshine Pizza 7 p.m.
9/16 Acme Feed & Seed 5-7 p.m.
9/19 The Basement 8 p.m.
Check out her website. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Soundcloud…