Album Review :: Scott Nolan :: The Suburb Beautiful

by Scott Price

Scott Nolan’s first album since 2016 opens with a ballad entitled “Bella Vista,” a tribute to the venue where Nolan cut his teeth for decades. The Bella is now the popular Shorty’s Pizza. While you can still get a slice there, the venue it once was is now gone. Live long enough, and your old haunts will change names and owners or be obliterated off the map. Every time we pass by these places, a flood of memories, sounds, and smells comes at us. There is some comfort in nostalgia but also melancholy. 

The Suburb Beautiful gives us a trip around Winnipeg and brief vestiges of Scott Nolan’s memories. The red cross atop Misericordia (“Bella Vista”), watching the trains go by on the Arlington bride (“Arlington Steet”), nights in Suburban Winnipeg (“Yellow Lights of Moray”), nice walking paths through industrial wasteland (Manitoba Skyline). “This is how we live now,” Nolan proclaims in “Without the Night.” Perhaps the line is meant as an indictment of the poor planning and sprawl in this city. Maybe just a statement of fact that while what once was will never be, but new memories and experiences can be forged.

Scott Nolan’s writing is as sharp and as personal as ever. Glen Buhr’s orchestration and conducting of what would normally be simple three-chord songs breathes life into the album. You can see the red neon cross atop Misericordia on a cold and crisp winter night, and you can smell the pizza at the Bella. You can hear the car thud over yet another bridge. Let’s enjoy and celebrate what we have now in this city. The fact that it is home to people like Scott Nolan and Glen Buhr is one thing to celebrate.

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