Gleefully Pushing The Boundaries of Americana.
Apart from the albums I receive to review, for many years now I’ve used a site called Noise Trade to discover new and exciting artists across a broad musical spectrum. One of these acts was a young lad called Noah Guthrie who (as far as I understood) did quirky cover versions, in particular I’m Sexy and I Know It. With so much going on in my life I never bothered doing any research, so didn’t know that he was an established singer-songwriter and a regular cast member on the TV show GLEE!!!!!
Thankfully I didn’t know that latter snippet of information before I received and listened to his latest and second album; or the ‘music snob’ in me may have taken over.
THE VALLEY gets a hefty kick-start with a the peppy opening track Razor Blade; a major surprise for me with an clever story set to a fiery Alt. Rock soundtrack; with Guthrie’s distinctive rasping vocals sounding perfect for AM Radio.
Guthrie manages to go Country Rock on Love You Now; which follows, with his voice managing to swoop and soar like an Americana Eagle circling over the Nappa Valley while the band plays on.
It’s not just Noah’s voice that has taken me pleasantly by surprise (I can’t think of anyone else to compare him too apart from Robert Pant!!!) but his storytelling and way with words is extraordinary; with Till It Thunders and Beautiful Crime not just showing his gentler more acoustic side; but also his poetical with words too.
Mary is the cornerstone that the album revolves around; gentle acoustica alternating with a full-on Band full of shoe-gazing intensity supporting Guthrie’s breathy and breathless bittersweet love song. What’s not to like?
Which brings me to the battle for ‘favourite song’…..will it be the introspective brittleness of Beautiful Crime or the smart as a whip, yet brooding melancholia of title track The Valley or perhaps Calling Your Name when Noah sounds like he could break into tears at any moment; but no I’m going for the co-write with RMHQ favourite Matthew Perryman Jones, Pardon Me. A breakup song so powerful yet fragile at its core, you genuinely feel his pain with him, and will instantly hate whoever has broken his heart; such is the power of music this good.
The overall ‘flavour’ of the Valley takes me back to those early days when Americana was known as Modern Country and albums by The Jayhawks, Grant Lee Buffalo, Giant Sand and the like were pushing the boundaries of what we knew as ‘Country Music’.
Released June 23rd 2017