I go into any release with a socio-political agenda with my doubts. It doesn’t matter what party, what belief or creed, when I hear a performer plowing a way along that particular path, I run.
Why? It’s like passing gas in church for me. The best songs are eternal, not transient, and songs brimming with specifics about objectionable politicians, laws, and movements of the moment are ancient history when the headlines change.
Don’t believe me? Ask any modern rock fan what Neil Young’s once highly charged and provocative anthem “Ohio” means to them in 2022. They will tell you it’s got a good guitar riff. After that, blank. Why? Nixon isn’t coming anymore. Many people don’t even remember him.
Paul Nourigat, however, avoids all of that. The two socially relevant demos included in his Complex Truths aren’t full of direct references to civilization’s perceived boogiemen but, instead, timeless invective against the power that be. “Natural Stupidity” showcases the slightly theatrical tilt of Nourigat’s vocals. He has a slow, sleepy disgust in his voice for the song’s subject that holds your attention.
There are interesting musical touches. The light electronic color present during the song is a welcome addition while the production captures a tasteful guitar presence. “Bad Cannot Be Good” has a much different demeanor, however, Blues guitar lights the song up with a fiery soul that helps put an exclamation point on the braying in Nourigat’s voice.
It doesn’t have a constant presence in the song, however. Nourigat weaves the musical arrangement out of several elements, as before, and no one will claim these demos are one-dimensional. The words for this track and his lyrical phrasing make an argument for this being the most fully developed of the demos.
“These Old People” has a few lines that are still clunky and Nourigat will likely tinker with them in the song’s final form. It’s impossible to argue with his sentiments, however, though he doesn’t romanticize the elderly. They are not always cuddly stereotypes in his world but, as the song underlines, vital and ongoing human beings with just as much spit and fire left within as peers years, if not decades, younger.
The honkytonkin’ stomp of the bluesy guitar and four-four drumming keeps atop listeners as well. Demos or not, Paul Nourigat has wheeled out a lot of firepower for those initial sketches and it leaves the mind slightly reeling when you consider how much more he’s capable of. Complex Truths is engaged with the full breadth of life rather than safe, compartmentalized, and neutered representation of our everyday struggles.
He has the talent to make it this far, and he’s got the spark to keep lighting his way forward into the future. Paul Nourigat isn’t a dilettante preaching from his soapbox but, instead, a thoughtful and urgent voice with imagination to spare. We are getting a significant taste of his imagination with this work and every indication is we are going to benefit from his voice for many years to come. This is music that can and will live far beyond the moment.
We do music reviews for Independent Artists and Publicists.