Dallas producer, singer-songwriter Salim Nourallah survives “A Nuclear Winter”

Standing outside a door wearing all denim, Salim Nourallah faces the camera

Salim Nourallah. Photo: Gaines Greer

Had Salim Nourallah not gone with A Nuclear Winter for the title of his first album in five years, a suitable alternative might have been Patience is a Virtue.

Proceeding in fits and starts since the fall of 2018, the Dallas singer-songwriter and producer watched as the world ground to a halt during the pandemic, thwarting any number of plans to release his new collection of songs, some of which had been gestating for close to a decade.

Was there a moment where Nourallah — a venerable Dallas music figure, who has collaborated with everyone from Rhett Miller to John Dufilho to KXT’s own Paul Slavens — came close to throwing in the towel and walking away?

“Yeah, there were multiple points,” Nourallah said during a recent conversation. “I think I said in the [press materials] that this was the most difficult record I’ve ever completed. … I’d never had an experience where something in the world totally affected the process and what was happening. So, it was a combination of your normal, creative things … [and] it was also everything that happened, and our whole musical world getting shut down.

“It was kind of like a perfect storm — I really got to, at some point in the middle of it, where I just kind of laughed [at] how ridiculous it was when the next thing would go wrong. I would just think, ‘Of course, of course that just happened.’”

A Nuclear Winter, Nourallah’s eighth studio album overall, is finally seeing the light of day, arriving Friday on State Fair Records.

It’s a sturdy, confident record, betraying none of the tumult of its making. Nourallah works in a disarmingly frank mode, wrapping unnerving lyrics — “You’re under attack/But the enemy’s you,” he snarls on “Under Attack” — into melodic, propulsive rock songs, adorned with sweetly chiming guitars.

Nourallah will celebrate the release with a Saturday performance at Sons of Hermann Hall, featuring a stacked local line-up: Ottoman Turks, Buttercup and the Deathray Davies are on the bill, opening for Nourallah and the Treefort 5.

Another external factor adding some pressure was the presence of English guitarist and singer-songwriter Marty Willson-Piper, a former member of the Australian psych-rock outfit The Church, with whom Nourallah produced Winter. The LP features Willson-Piper also contributing guitar, alongside Nourallah’s long-time bandmates, the Treefort 5 (drummer Dufilho, guitarist Joe Reyes, bassist Jason Garner and keys player Richard Martin). Willson-Piper will be on hand Saturday as well.

“I got into my head a little bit, because of Marty being involved,” Nourallah said. “The 19-year-old me was going, ‘Well, it’s not good enough; it’s not good enough.’”

Regardless of the fraught run-up to its release, Nourallah is grateful for Willson-Piper’s collaboration — the pair is going to return to the studio later this year to work on the follow-up to A Nuclear Winter. And Nourallah found a novel way to circumvent the pressure of a new project, by reaching back into his past.

“I started this project for myself called ‘Rescued from Oblivion,’” Nourallah said. “I’ve got in my studio about 100 CDs, filled with songwriting ideas I took off handheld cassette recorders and digital recorders over the years, and I thought it would be cool to finally wade into all of the ideas, and finish unfinished songs.

“It was the most fun I’ve ever had writing because I felt like I was almost an editor, coming in from the outside. … It’s taken all the pressure off. It’s only been fun.”

Salim Nourallah “A Nuclear Winter” LP release show at Sons of Hermann Hall, Dallas. 7 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $25-$45.

Preston Jones is a North Texas freelance writer and regular contributor to KXT. Email him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter (@prestonjones). Our work is made possible by our generous, music-loving members. If you like how we lift up local music, consider becoming a KXT sustaining member right here.