Being connected with Noah through his work as a music blogger turns out to be far from an indication of his style and depth as an artist – not to mention his skills as a guitarist, songwriter and producer. Enter Willing, a powerful and deeply personal album, that effectively brings together a number of influences in a smooth and stylish way.
What begins as an acoustic blues album, evolves to incorporate extensive elements of hip hop, electronica, and even pop-rock – all the while holding close to an intimate songwriting style; one that explores Noah’s journey as an artist and an individual in today’s world.
Trickster is categorically a highlight, and kicks off the project in a stunning fashion – impeccable guitar work, a crisp and warm sound, stunning breathy vocals and compelling poetry. A White Man’s Blues then immediately draws your focus to the artist, the lyrics, and the current political and social climate in the US.
Elsewhere these authentic blues vibes develop to become a little more consumed by electronic production, and walls of vocals and effects – Listen To Your Home being a fine example. The songwriting is good, poetic and interesting. Porch Step afterwards delves into that electronic sound even more-so, leading with a rap vocal now, and a detailed, revealing story-line that lets the listener get a whole lot closer to the artist behind it all.
As things progress, there are some definite flickers of character – unique traits that can be followed back to Noah in every case. The electric guitar sound and style during mellow solos is undoubtedly one. The voice is another, and the doubled, often quadrupled vocals. Don’t Let Me Lose My Faith is a big song, melodically unique, with a brilliantly unusual chord progression, yet it’s still one that immediately reminds you of those threads and consistencies throughout the project.
Album arrangement is important, and as reviewer, Noah clearly understands this. Willing plays out in a manner that keeps you entertained and enthralled at every step. The acoustic instrumental tones of Solace are gorgeously well-placed, then the step up into blues-rock for the conceptually relevant Madness hits with impact thanks to that lyrical break.
During the latter half, If You See Your Demon is a definite highlight, brilliant guitar work, a fine melody, gorgeous vocals and powerful poetry. Then the social issues return in full force as the project draws your focus to family, those you hold close, for Tribe. And then, contrast at work beautifully, Madison is a heart-breakingly beautiful acoustic piece, with delicate folk vocals and an underlying story of love and change over time.
At the penultimate moment, Noah throws in one more curve-ball. Your Love Is My Medicine showcases the dedication and vibrancy at the heart of its lyrics with a world-fusion sort of dance-meets-Americana aura. A sudden hit of country EDM really injects a new level of energy at this late stage.
Elissa Said follows it up with an equally upbeat fusion of electronic beats and acoustic guitar strums – you can visualize the full-soundscape as much so as an acoustic, solo performance, which adds further dynamic and reminds you of the artist at the centre of the story. A lovely riff echoes out between lyrics, bringing the project to a colourful and again revealing finish.
Noah lays everything out on the table with this album, and underlines some superb musicianship and creativity along the way. Really well done, a fascinating journey to embark upon.