Nourallah helped produce No Trouble, an 11-song Americana record centered on Middleton's sugary vocals and heartfelt, small-town prose. The songwriting is so transparent and unpretentious that it exudes a brave innocence like Middleton's voice itself, a soulful, budding sound, like a young Alison Krauss at its sweetest points and, at its best, reminiscent of Leona Naess' bridled expression.
No Trouble is an accessible record -- maybe even a Nashville record -- and it will be interesting to see where it takes Middleton.
Performances by Nick Jay of Jonathan Tyler & the Northern Lights and seasoned Dallas musician Chris Holt among others pepper the record with cred as Middleton's band serves her tender style with muted playing. The songstress put down the acoustic guitar and handed off keyboard duties to focus on vocals in the studio.
Upbeat tracks like "There's No You" and "Abilene, TX" are the gems to skip to -- the band rides smoothly through twangy changes like a Cold Roses-era Ryan Adams. Two tracks from Middleton's 2006 EP Repercussions made it on, and you can measure her growth with a yardstick.
In the well-established boys' club of Dallas alt-country, the arrival of Middleton's full-length has been anticipated as she chose its producer from the head of that pack (Nourallah recently worked on Dallas ex-pat Rhett Miller's solo album.) Middleton is the organizing songbird behind Opening Bell Coffee's weekly Songwriters In The Round series and a semi-regular on the Dallas club circuit, having generated just enough buzz among the right industry folk to set her up for an entrance into the larger Dallas scene.
Middleton talked to Pegasus News last month about matching visions with Nourallah, her emotional lyrics ("Not everything is autobiographical," she said) and her hopes for the Songwriters in the Round. See a performance of "Abilene, TX," from No Trouble, below.