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Album Review

Most artists who choose to release a live album have a sizable body of work to draw from, but Salim Nourallah made a whopping two solo albums and an EP before he and his group the Polaroids took a musical tour through his back catalog with the live set Pleasantry Lane. Pleasantry Lane isn't a traditional live disc — it was recorded at a studio owned in part by Nourallah without an audience present, but the songs were cut in real time without overdubs, and the tone recalls seeing a band play in a small, comfortable club, only without requests for more vocals in the monitors or the clinking of beer bottles. Nourallah and his band — Steve Duncan on guitar, Jason Garner on bass, Meri Knoll on keyboards, and John Dufilho on drums — are in excellent form, sounding tight and intuitive as they give Nourallah's gentle but enthusiastic pop melodies enough force to put them into escape velocity without crushing their frameworks. And while Nourallah hasn't been around long enough to really need a live "best-of" set, Pleasantry Lane makes a splendid case for his gifts as a songwriter, featuring a baker's dozen tunes that swing from the wistful wit of "1978" to the lover's angst of "Avenue" while keeping a firm, graceful footing at all times. Suggesting a musical meeting point between Wilco and the Pernice Brothers, Salim Nourallah is an artist deserving greater recognition, and Pleasantry Lane is a fine place to find out how good he can be.

Pleasantry Lane, Salim Nourallah and the Polaroids
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