SONG PREMIERE: Salim Nourallah Revels in Psychedelic Weirdness With “Chopping Block”

Respected Dallas, TX-based singer/songwriter/producer/musician-of-many-trades Salim Nourallah is set to release a sprawling double-album, Somewhere South of Sane, on September 28 on Palo Santo Records. His seventh solo album, it is Nourallah’s boldest work yet, exploring the desolation of peace in America (“Relief”), the implosion of a marriage (“A Betrayal”), madness of a life lived among the record stacks (“Boy in a Record Shop”), and is nothing short of a musical odyssey.

Recorded and mixed mostly at Nourallah’s Pleasantry Lane Studio in Dallas, the self-produced album is an honest, often brutal introspective exercise that is relatable, heartbreaking, and amusing all at the same time. With the two-fisted melancholy of John Lennon and the elegant bluntness of Neil Finn, Somewhere South of Sane elevates Nourallah to the apex of his art, trading rock riffs for a classical guitar and assisted by the mind-bending instrumentation of guitarist Nick Earl, Nourallah’s bandmate in the Travoltas and a musician he calls a “total freak genius.” Nourallah further explains: “He has this ability to create worlds. Music is very visual to me, and I’ve always seen music in colors. Each of these songs has a sonic world, and Nick is responsible for that because he doesn’t play conventional guitar.”

In the tradition of nakedly stark, confessional songwriters like John Lennon and Bob Dylan, Nourallah makes no bones about confronting his inner demons on Somewhere South of Sane. “When I was a kid, I was struck by the violence, greed and insanity of the ‘grownup’ world,” he says, “and the only way I found I could deal with it was music. I guess I’m still using the same, crude method of self-therapy.”

Today Glide is excited to premiere one of the songs on Nourallah’s 21-song opus. “Chopping Block” takes a psychedelic, saccharine approach to subject matter that is anything but. Interestingly, part of the inspiration for the song came from Nancy Sinatra (more on that later). There is a wonky guitar sound that is used throughout the song to give the song a delightful weirdness as Nourallah pays tribute to some of his favorite acts of the tripped out 60s. As one of the more humorous (read: only) songs on the album, it also finds him having a hell of a lot of fun both in terms of his lyricism and instrumentation. 

In his own words, Nourallah has this to say about the song:

In my estimation, “Chopping Block” is the only song on “Somewhere South of Sane” with even the slightest trace of humor. It’s my psychedelic, acoustic finger-picking nod to “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’.” I’ve always wanted to write a cold and calculated “I’m leaving you” song, but the ultimate act really isn’t in my nature. I know I don’t possess the writing chops to get any chillier than, “like Marie Antoinette, you’ve got a hell of a neck.” That line has always felt like a twisted personal best. “Chopping Block” also drags back the loose Eastern/Indian musical motif that gently rears its head at various times over the course of the record. From “Boy in a Record Shop,” “Let Go of the Night,” and “Sweet as a Weed,” to “Is This Where the Trouble Begins?,” I haven’t dabbled with psychedelia since my brother Faris and I did, way back in the ’90s. I had a brief phase where I was listening to Syd Barrett a lot and the influence came out. Old, forgotten songs of mine like “Everything, Revolves, Dissolves…Collides,” “Acid Tongue,” and “Vegetable Head” spring to mind. I never had a plan to write a bunch of new songs that incorporated those kind of elements, but because I was experimenting with alternate guitar tunings, it came to fruition easily. These kinds of tunings lend themselves to making up songs with melodies that sound more Eastern than Western. So if you want to fire up the incense and fantasize about breaking up with that boy or girl who’s done you wrong, “Chopping Block” might be the perfect song for you!


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Photo credit: Casey Pinckard

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