RIVER FOOLS & MOUNTAIN SAINTS
THIRTY TIGERS / COOKING VINYL AUSTRALIA
Ian Noe’s debut of 2019 was one of those albums hit the radar of music enthusiasts and spread organically like wildfire. Richly imbued with the spirit and craft of folk and country songwriting it marked the arrival of a new and exciting talent. COVID scuppered many of his touring plans but it allowed him to really dig into the writing and recording of this new album, a dozen songs that surpass his impressive debut.
The Dylan influence and similarities to The Felice Brothers remain but they’re now balanced by a wider musical palette that draws on some loose and laidback choogling rock ’n’ roll akin to CCR and JJ Cale. On ‘Burning Down The Prairie’ Noe even veers into Black Keys blues rock territory. At its core though, the album is timeless country folk, with characters galore dealing with life’s short straws. “Well, here comes Lorraine, she’s a stumbling terror. High on her bathtub gin” is one example of Noe painting a whole scene across two lines.
Noe’s phrasing, rhyming and way with melody is impeccable. He leans into songs with his heartfelt and poetic delivery, draping every word in emotional weight the equal of Townes Van Zandt. For an example of the different sonic terrain Noe navigates, check out the effortless hooks of ‘Pine Grove (Madness) and the ambient cosmic folk of ‘Appalachian Haze’. An exceptional Americana album that may not be bettered in 2022.