Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Premiere: Salim Nourallah’s “Relief”

May 29, 2018

Salim Nourallah‘s “Relief” is a tense song about seeking peace. Nourallah is looking for relational harmony, striving for goodwill between people in relationship and throughout society.

The problem is that he’s not finding any of that peace he’s looking for; he’s offered no relief. The resolution comes when he chooses to give relief to people instead of only seeking it. Lyrically, this is a strong offering–Nourallah’s words keep the song moving, even amid the slow tempo and atmospheric arrangement.

Salim Nourallah wearing sunglasses and a black pea coat, walking down a suburban sidewalk with grass on both sides and large trees in the background. A car is parked on the street.

Salim Nourallah. Photographed by Casey Pinckard.

The arrangement is a deft, careful one. The song was written on piano, but the final version of this track doesn’t bring in the piano until midway through the song. The first, piano-less half of the song relies on ’90s lead guitar sounds, stark percussion, grumbling bass, and distant atmospheric melodies to create the atmosphere he’s looking for: it’s an arrangement that could be peaceful, but has tough edges instead. The entrance of the piano mellows out the tune for a while, but the gritty bits remain throughout. If peace is elusive and difficult lyrically, so it is musically.

Fans of ’90s Brit-pop, ’00s Grandaddy-style alt-pop, and ’10s singer/songwriters (Peter Bradley Adams comes to mind) will enjoy this tune quite a bit. “Relief” appears on both the EP North (out June 1) and the full album Somewhere South of Sane (out sometime in Fall). Both releases are on Palo Santo Records. You can catch Nourallah on Twitter and Facebook.

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Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of instrumental music. We write about those trying to make the next step in their careers and established artists.

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