Ian Noe – Stories of River Fools & Mountain Saints

Ian Noe’s New Album





Ian Noe has announced his second album River Fools & Mountain Saints, a portrait of contemporary Appalachia, due out March 25 via Thirty Tigers. The singer-songwriter’s first single “Pine Grove (Madhouse)” is out now (see clip below).

River Fools & Mountain Saints is the follow-up to Noe’s lauded debut Between The Country. (That release featured in Listening Through The Lens‘s Best Albums of 2019).

Reportedly with a bigger sound and brighter tone, the new collection highlights Noe’s storytelling prowess through twelve country rockers and Appalachian ballads. Noe sings about members of his community — like the pot-dealing woman who lives at the foothills of the mountains or soldier who passed away – as well as the landscape and natural disasters that inflict the region.

The first single “Pine Grove (Madhouse)” begins with the opening line “stranded inside a madhouse” aptly describing the isolation everyone experienced during the pandemic. Noe says of this song “there’s no denying this album was made during a pandemic, so figured I’d open it up with the word ‘stranded.’ This song is about being stuck, being isolated, but making the most of it. It’s also an ode to the all the party houses I’ve frequented and making music.”

River Saints & Mountain Fools was recorded on reel-to-reel tapes in short spurts over the course of two years, without the pressure of time, which enabled a wider range of experimentations, collaborations and sounds.

The album title came to Noe before any of the songs, serving as a concept and a guiding principle. “That landscape and that geography of growing up in Lee County, Kentucky,” he begins, “I’ve got so much material I can write about, of stories of all these people and just life in general, growing up there. You think about the river? It’s down here, it’s low. And then you got the mountains up high. You can go all over the place with that type of landscape, and that’s how the writing starts.”

Noe explores character studies on “Mountain Saint”, honors the Indigeous people of the region on “Burning Down The Prairie,” many veterans of his town on “POW Blues,” the landscape and natural disasters in “Appalachian Haze” and “Road May Flood/It’s A Heartache,” which interpolates Bonnie Tyler’s classic 80’s love song.

To that end, musically, Noe looked to a wide array of influences for this record, from Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, and John Prine to M.I.A. and Courtney Barnett. Noe cites Alabama Shakes’ self-titled debut and Margo Price’s records as sounds that led him to work with producer Andrija Tokic in Nashville.

“The fact that I got to work with him is surreal to me after all these years later…romanticizing the sound he’s getting here and the name of the place — The Bomb Shelter,” he exudes.

Noe also expanded his sound with the help of band members including “Little” Jack Lawrence (The Raconteurs) on bass and Derry deBorja (Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit) on keyboards.

Despite being written in quarantine and in the wake of natural disasters, River Fools and Mountain Saints is presented in a positive tone. Noe maintains it’s about good moments growing up in a hard place. But most importantly, it’s about music as redemption, romanticism and release.



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Ian Noe’s New Album

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Author: Rob Dickens

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