Chelsea Nolan, is building a fire. Lit by growing up in arguably the most beautiful countrysides in the nation, surrounded by self-taught musicians who could play the pants off most any instrument, and occasionally guided by big brother and fellow singer-songwriter, Josh Nolan, Chelsea has found a way to shine a light on all the dirty corners of life. Saying more in one line than most do in an entire song, her stories are candid, gritty, real, and they carry you right along with her through the heartbreak, humility, and life lessons learned.
With crowds soon singing their favorite lines like, “You’d steal the pennies off a dead man’s eyes”, “You’re what rock bottom looks like”, “We stay wild enough to shoot at, you can put that on our stones”, and “You’re the one I look for when I’m ready to go home”, Chelsea found herself being pushed to record her songs, and though initially hesitant, finally decided it was the right time.
“I’ve waited 27 years for this. For the first 25 years of that wait, I didn’t even realize I was waiting. I never thought I’d have a record to call my own. But something felt way too right about how it all fell together to just walk away.” During a short run with Sam Williams, grandson of Hank Williams, she met engineer and producer, Tom Vrem (Chris Stapleton, St Paul & The Broken Bones), who invited her down to record in Nashville.
“If you think something is just a crazy coincidence, odds are it’s much bigger than that. My band walked into Studio D and punched out five live-tracked songs in just six hours. There’s a lot of love between us all, seeing as there are two sets of siblings playing the music that keeps us all ticking.”
Recorded at the famed Blackbird Studios (Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Stevie Nicks), her six-song, foot stompin’, country debut, chelsea., features an all-star cast of musicians from the region, including a lock-step rhythm section of brothers Aaron and Andy White, Montana Hobbs on banjo, Travis Egnor on pedal steel, Chloe Edmonstone on fiddle, and brother Josh Nolan on guitar.
“Silver Line”, a swinging sing-along of a song that’s about finding the good in everything, stars said brother who “absolutely did kill my dad’s Jeep at the main stoplight in my one-horse town” in a personal favorite verse of hers: “Because it’s about something he messed up, and I’m his little sister, so it’s my job to never let things go”.
Her first single, and the first track of her EP, paints a picture of the first man to create heat from pure will and ambition. “Build A Fire” came to me one night around camp at a place called Skeeter Ranch. I had just spent a few hours laying on top of an abandoned lock wall on the Kentucky River. When I made it back to the ranch, I sat staring at the fire, listening to the cicadas sing and the embers crackle, and thinking about how the fire was made and how long people have sat around and enjoyed the same thing I was enjoying. I started wondering about the man who first created fire and what that must have been like. I’m certain he eagerly shared it with his friends, who appreciated it, but then were left feeling empty and searching to find their very own fire.”
Offering a retrospective look at her first quarter century of existence, “If You Think It’s About You, It Probably Is” started with a line her Mamaw said to her a couple of weeks before she passed away. “The words “I’ll live a lifetime and still be learning” really resonated within me. During the same time that my grandmother’s health was fading, it hit me that I was in love with my best friend. After a night at a John R. Miller show, I realized that he was the one I looked for when I was ready to go home.”
Having graduated from songwriter stages to festival main stages (Master Musicians, Well Crafted, Kickin’ It On The Creek, Red Fest) in less than a year, Chelsea is carving her own path and making quick work of it.
“Chelsea Nolan is hands down one of the most requested artists I have ever played here on my podcast. I got so many emails and messages from folks wanting to hear more from her after she played here in Dingess.
A true Appalachian gem if there ever was one.”
W.B. Walker Old Soul Radio Show
Find her on the road in support of her new album, "chelsea."