Paul Nourigat savours life’s beauty on new album ‘Smiles That Pass By’

“My songs speak to people who want to hear stories,” Paul Nourigat says of his resplendent album ‘Smiles That Pass By’

Paul Nourigat has traversed the broad sweep of Americana music on his just-released album ‘Smiles That Pass By’.

A sprawling, ten-song collection that traces the Portland artist from folk, to country and blues, the project brims with universally-resonant stories and ah-ha moments, marking Nourigat’s uplifting and empowering work to date. 

Paul Nourigat album
Credit: Elevated Spectrum

The album opens with the groovy guitar melodies and country flecks of ‘Assumed It Would Happen’, an instantly warm track carried by Nourigat’s infectious drawl.

In what remains a throughline across the entire tracklist, the album opener occupies its own roots-flavoured world and follows a classic storytelling arc. 

Atop rustic licks and subtle percussion seemingly pulled from around a campfire, ‘Assumed It Would Happen’ reflects on the passage of time, living in the present and the cyclical nature of life.

“It was what it was and we can’t go back,” Nourigat croons with the assist of female backing harmonies, “once in a lifetime but we did not know then.”  

Paul Nourigat album
Credit: Lisa Marie

Second track ‘Bad Cards’ sees Nourigat revel in his bluesy tendencies, coasting on relatively sparse instrumentation and a leisurely pace.

It’s the kind of sunlit track you’d play with the windows down on a wide open road, punctuated by twangy strums and an optimistic message about relenting to life’s uncertainty.  

‘Big Ass Serving Of Humble’ an all-out country explosion, coasting on lilting rhythms and Nourigat’s raspy delivery.

Here, the songwriter takes aim at those in need of humble pie, offering incisive commentary on society’s “TMI syndrome” and those who “realise no one’s listening whenever they talk.”

There’s a sense of wittiness and humour that courses throughout this album standout, as Nourigat plays with self-referential lyrics and offers to “pass this tune along” to “someone who talks too much.” 

These intentional lyrics are perhaps the major drawcard of ‘Smiles That Pass By’. The pop-leaning ‘Call Us What You Please’ is an ode to life’s messiness and the multitudes that live within us, with the assist of earworm hooks and catchy percussion.

Tropical guitar melodies soundtrack a tale of wanderlust and seafaring on the escapist ‘Island Strumming’, while ‘Loving A Child’ dips into country balladry for an ode to childhood, parenthood, and coming-of-age. 

While his sound ranges from toe-tapping to foot-stomping, what binds Nourigat’s artistry is his knack for thought-provoking and vivid storytelling, delivered via his clear affinity for guitars.

“My songs speak to people who want to hear stories,” Nourigat explained in a press statement. “Having experienced many highs and lows, I’ve come out of the extremes stronger for the experiences.” 

It’s a sentiment that’s abundantly clear on the title track, which culminates all of Nourigat’s talents with evocative imagery and an utterly infectious heartland rock flair.

Painting vivid vignettes, the track makes mention of everything from laughing babies to hovering hummingbirds and the moment one first rides a bike, with an overall message of savouring each of these moments. 

Nourigat finishes his sonic journey with ‘Yesterday’s Winners’, a classic country-blues anthem that ends the album on a fittingly optimistic note.

What all of it amounts to is an artist who has clearly perfected his sound, and is more than willing to invite listeners into his blissful worldview. 

Listen to Paul Nourigat’s latest album ‘Smiles That Pass By’ below and preorder here.