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Paul Nourigat Treats You To Smiles That Pass By

The Oregon singer-songwriter's sound traverses folk, country, blues and rock.

Paul Nourigat aims to stop you in your tracks with the depth and sincerity of his new album Smiles That Pass By — showcasing today on Tinnitist.

Nourigat has been a “musical bystander” his whole life. Five years ago, however, he picked up a guitar and five thoughtfully themed albums later he hasn’t looked back. With steely determination and no formal musical training, Paul learned to play ukulele, guitar, sing, write songs, and collaborate with instrumentalists around the world.

Today, Paul is an Americana singer-songwriter with a richly diverse catalog of songs that traverse folk, country, rock, and blues. The Portland, Oregon artist’s latest album, Smiles That Pass By, stands out in his oeuvre for being his most uplifting and empowering. It features 10 original songs brimming with universally resonant personal stories and aha-moments, reaching across genres and generations.

“I’m at a point in life where I’m compelled to share what’s on my mind,” says Paul, who recently turned 65. “Having experienced many highs and lows, I’ve come out of the extremes stronger for the experiences, which is the essence of the lyrics for each song on Smiles That Pass By.”

Paul’s broad sweep of the Americana landscape recalls such artists as Slaid Cleaves, Guy Clark, The Lumineers and Jim Lauderdale. Each of his songs occupies its own unique roots-flavored world, and Paul, with his producer and guitarist Adam Selzer, curate just the right mix of musicians for the personality of each track.

At the heart of Paul’s songs is his life. Growing up, his family moved around internationally and nationally as a result of his father’s military career, and he lived in 12 homes by the time he graduated high school. This transient existence forced his sense of independence and mindfulness of the world around him. Just after high school, he survived a brutal and humbling motorcycle accident that claimed a few digits on his shattered hands, after which he discounted playing musical instruments. That is, until his wife of 40 years signed him up for a group ukulele session, which led to guitars, writing over 150 songs, and the rest is history.

“My songs speak to people who want to hear stories,” Paul says. He crafts each album with well-developed overarching themes, and each song features narratives with classic story arcs, including sweet resolutions. In the future, Paul plans to leverage his vast unpublished lyrical catalog for other artists, and license his works to film and stage productions. Outside of music, over the past decade Paul has been parlaying his literary gifts as a noted author, writing and publishing 10 books, which are distributed around the world, teaching kids, teens, and young adults about life essentials and financial topics.

Smiles That Pass By is at times toe-tapping, at times foot stomping, and always thought provoking. “It’s meant to be a positive, feel-good album with stories and truths that are broadly applicable,” Paul says. The single Assumed It Would Happen hits that sweet spot between country and folk with strummed acoustic guitars, lonesome pedal steel, plaintive vocals at times gorgeously adorned with female harmony interlace.

Photo by Lisa Marie.

The standout Bad Cards is a laidback folk rocker featuring hard-earned wisdom and Paul’s son Nick Nourigat on electric guitar alongside an array of session musicians. Will Not Pretend is an elegantly-essential ballad with Paul’s warm reflective vocals tastefully accompanied by piano, electric guitar, and cello. The song unpacks how fleeting friendship can be in a lifetime.

Other delights include Big Ass Serving Of Humble, a real-deal country number with witty but wise lyrics. The title track is a heartland rocker about savoring every moment. Here, Paul captures many of the milestones of living a life in poetic and tightly-written stanzas. One choice passage reads: It’s like when babies laugh, A dog fetches a ball, A hummingbird hovers nearby / When you rode your first bike, when you learned how to drive / When sweet love first caught your eye, enjoy the smiles that pass by. Says Paul: “I’m a happy guy, the kind that you know is coming because you hear me whistling. This song is about that kind of happiness. It’s a reminder that life is really what we make it, regardless of our situations, and how important it is to embrace the good that is around us, celebrating simple pleasures”

The fairytale romance on the country-rock song Miles Between Us is beautifully autobiographical. “That song is about a young couple separated by choice and circumstance, 950 miles from each other, making that fateful decision to eliminate the gap.” That was 42 years ago, and Paul and Lisa remain happily married.

Watch some of Paul Nourigat’s videos above, listen to Smiles That Pass By below, and find him on his website, Facebook and Instagram.


Photo by Lisa Marie.