IAN NOE – ” River Fools & Mountain Saints “

Posted: June 15, 2022 in MUSIC

Kentucky country singer Ian Noe follows his excellent 2019 debut album “Between The Country” with “River Fools & Mountain Saints“. After making his debut with Dave Cobb (Jason Isbell, Chris Stapleton, Sturgill Simpson, etc), Ian made this one with Andrija Tokic (Alabama Shakes, Hurray for the Riff Raff), and his backing band for the album included The Raconteurs bassist Jack Lawrence and Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit keyboardist Derry deBorja.

It covers more ground than his debut, making room for twang-fuelled rock, traditional country and bluegrass, ethereal balladry, sweeping string-laden country pop, and more, and it seamlessly crosses boundaries between different musical genres, eras, and regions. 

 the subject is blue-collar Appalachia – Kentucky is one of the poorest states in the US – though this time round Noe’s outlook is more genial, his characters more amiable, be they broken-down Vietnam veterans, crazed truck drivers or heartbroken loners. His musical palette has broadened accordingly, helped by producer Andrija Tokic, whose analogue approach brings warmth to the sound.

There are a couple of swaggering, electric rock-outs like opener “Pine Grove“, but most songs roll past (at around two minutes) driven by strummed acoustic guitars, with interpolations from fiddle and keyboard. There’s even a closing track, “Road May Flood“, soaked in tasteful strings. Noe still wears his principal influence, Prine, on his sleeve, but “Ballad of a Retired Man” could as easily come from Nebraska-era Springsteen, and PoW Blues from John Fogerty. A gritty, compelling talent.

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