Chris Nole performed extensively around the Philadelphia/Jersey Shore area in the early eighties before deciding it was time for a change. Feeling the pull of Blues, Roots, Country, Southern Rock, and the recording studio scene, Nole moved to Nashville in 1987. He quickly became a sought after talent who toured and recorded alongside numerous top acts, including superstar Faith Hill, pop folk icon John Denver, country-rocker Travis Tritt, Gospel-Pop-Country Music legends the Oak Ridge Boys, Don Williams, acclaimed vocalist Shelby Lynne, Emmylou Harris and many more. In addition to being a well-established keyboardist, Chris is a composer whose songs have been recorded by various artists.
Chris Nole has recorded and released 7 albums, his latest being the twelve track “It Be What It Be”, laced with vintage blues, rock n’ roll, and New Orleans-style piano-driven songs. The moods on this album range from raucous, romping rock like “Roll Over Beethoven” and “I’m Ready Beddy”, to bittersweet piano ballads such as “Lay Across My Piano”.
In between you’ll also find soul-stirring instrumental reworking’s of classics like “House Of The Rising Sun”. Nole is at his best when he combines his rhythmic groove with his earthy, raspy and resonating vocals on “My Last Clean Shirt” and “Somethin’ In The Water”.
If there is a shred of decency in you, grab a copy this record! You will be amply rewarded, because, quite simply, this is stellar work from Chris Nole. He is an incendiary pianist and all-around performer. Furthermore all the original. plus cover song choices are great, and provide an excellent backdrop for Nole’s sensitive keyboard and vocal attack.
Gritty, fiery, hard driving and soulful can all be used to describe his performances here. “It Be What It Be” is an immensely strong and unusually varied collection of songs, spanning swaggering rock n’ roll, passionate soul-blues, mid-tempo vintage blues grinds, and smoldering classic numbers.
There are so many highlights here that it’s hard to say anything against the notion that this is indeed a great studio album. A terrific record, plain and simple, especially if your faith still lies in organically executed music. You wouldn’t think such a monumental work as “House Of The Rising Sun” could be improved, but Chris Nole’s piano gives this track another dimension, a contrasting tone, and as such, a completely different interpretation to what you may have heard in previous versions. Not bad, if you consider how many times this song has been covered in its history…and by whom!
Another song that beautifully shows off Nole’s delicate artistic sensibilities is the album’s contemplative closing track, “Blues For Miles”, where again he reads inside the core of the arrangement dragging out its very soul for all to see. A seasoned musician, Chris Nole is a man who perfectly understands how to employ minimal construction to maximum effect; to fully exploit even the most basic elements of a tune and use his exquisite sense of timing, and subtleness on the one hand and emphasis on the other, rather than dazzling the listener by a frenzied race all over the keyboard.
This album is a perfect example of that style. Solidly produced by Chris Nole himself, “It Be What It Be” retains a close-up and live feel throughout, which is nothing less than electrifying to the ear. ( Header Photo Credit -Rick Caballo )