Album Reviews,  Music

REVIEW: Appalachian Gold Struck Again. Ian Noe Releases ‘Between The Country’ On May 31st

The world is seeing a musical shift, a revolution, a renaissance, a renewal and a revival and Kentucky artists are leading the charge. Artists like Chris Stapleton, Sturgill Simpson and Tyler Childers command music lovers attention. The latest sensation that is destined to follow their lead is Ian Noe.

While nothing is ever really a sure thing in music, it’s safe to put some bets on Ian Noe and his music. Ian’s music will never be heard on terrestrial radio, it’s too authentic. His music will never be on an Avenger’s soundtrack, it’s too real and his music may never top the mainstream Billboard charts, but dropping in at number 47 on the Emerging Artists Chart, poised to make a decent Top 200 debut next week, is not an easy task. With that momentum and time on his side, Ian could (and hopefully he does) prove me wrong. I’d likely never be any happier about being wrong.

Furthermore, what is evident is that Noe’s music has struck a chord with fans of real music. If the internet has done one thing right, it’s given the power to choose the music they want back to the fans, not what has been force fed through MTV or terrestrial radio.

Noe’s authenticity and relatability are precisely why his music will last well beyond the careers of the skinny jean wearing, pop stars disguised as “Country.”

A lot of what makes Ian Noe and his music unique, is the environment that he grew up in. As many Eastern Kentuckians do, Ian moved away to Kentucky’s largest city, Louisville. He tried starting a band, but was drawn back home with the promise of a decent job. Jobs are scarce in Beattyville and cities have a way of humbling a fella that isn’t used to the hustle and bustle of city life.

Beattyville is located in Lee County. I’m a lifelong Kentuckian and I spent some time in neighboring Breathitt County growing up. Yet, I’ve only been to Beattyville once. That was to visit my Grandmother’s sister. If you’ve ever been to Beattyville, I’d venture to say that your reasoning was similar. The area is somewhat of a forgotten corner of Appalachia and is often cited as one of the poorest counties in the United States.

The isolation and abundance of spare time usually lead to trouble for young folks. Many turning to drugs to self-medicate their feelings of hopelessness and slim chance at finding much success in or around the region that birthed them. It’s a problem all over the country, but Eastern Kentucky faces the opioid epidemic on a scale much larger than most. Ian addresses that issue on the song called “Methhead” and I will let his music do the talking here. (NSFW Lyrics)

Ian Noe – “Methhead”:

Those situations are not taboo to Ian Noe, because Ian Noe lives by what I like to call the “John Prine Creed.” Write what you know, the people you know, the situations you know and people will connect. We’re all emotional creatures, we just have different habitats. The things that you connect with, others will as well.

Having said all of that, I hope I’ve helped paint an overview of why Ian and his music is important. Not only to Kentuckians, but society as a whole.

We need fearless storytellers to preserve our way of life through documentation, to shine spotlights on the dire situations we all face, to connect souls on a personal level and help us understand that we’re all on this sinking ship together.

There have been many important songwriters that have had a cultural impact through their art. Ian Noe’s path is not a new one, but it is an extremely important one that is far less traveled than it should be.

What would the world be like without Bob Dylan, or John Prine, or Jerry Garcia, or John Lennon? I don’t want to know a world without those voices and given time, Ian Noe could very well fall within their realm of greatness and I’m not alone in my thinking.

Given the opportunity, Mega-Producer Dave Cobb jumped at the chance to produce ‘Between The Country.’ The Grammy winner knows a thing or two about the talent streaming out of the Bluegrass. Having worked with Chris Stapleton, Sturgill Simpson and Dillon Carmichael, Cobb sees what we see here and he wants the world to pay attention as well.

With ‘Between The Country,’ Ian paints vivid landscapes with a minimalistic approach. Choosing to write his stories without wasting time or space, Noe evokes characters that I too have known as an Eastern Kentuckian.

In “That Kind Of Life,” Noe speaks about a jack-of-all-trades gentleman that has the ability to fix anything and how few people live “That Kind Of Life” anymore. I grew up with several of those type gentlemen in my life, many of which were family members. I grew up around them and while I was always much better at constructing a sentence than I ever was an engine, I had, have and hopefully always will have a deep respect for the blue collar guys that seemed to always know the answers.

Ian Noe: “That Kind Of Life” (Live):

He conjures a stark reality of the only hope that many folks in such an area possess in “Junk Town”. That’s the hope that in the afterlife, we’re transported to a wonderful land far, far away from the problems and limitations that life has dealt us. Faith runs as deep within the folks from Appalachia as the coal does within those mountains.

There are stories of debauchery, a train crash, a bank robbery, the effects of drugs on individuals, love, hope and nearly every conceivable emotion. All told in such a way that keeps your imagination going long after the songs are over.

Ian Noe – “Letter To Madeline”:

You don’t go to see Ian Noe in concert because you want to line dance, you go see Ian Noe because you want to feel and you want to be surrounded by those that share these similarities. Those type of artists don’t come around often and that’s exactly why you should care about Ian and his art.

Our suggested tracks to get you started include; “Irene (Ravin’ Bomb)”, “Junk Town”, “Letter To Madeline”, “Loving You”, “Dead On The River (Rolling Down)” and “Between The Country.” But, let’s be honest here, if you like one Ian Noe song, you’re going to love them all.

Don’t take my word for it, Mr. Aquaman himself is a fan. Jason Momoa experiences Ian Noe in this video:

Come join us at The Burl in Lexington on May 30th at Ian’s ‘Between The Country’ release party. Pick up your tickets here. It’s a show that you’ll tell your grandkids about, because Ian Noe is about to take over America with guns a blazing.