The elusive and enigmatic Ian Noe from Kentucky stunned many and left them hungry for more with his debut album Between The Country from 2019. But aside from some scant touring and appearances, the songwriter has been mostly out of the spotlight, with the away time allowing the hearts of his fans to grow even fonder. Now he’s ready to return in earnest with his second album called River Fools & Mountain Saints on March 25th, with the first song “Pine Grove (Madhouse)” out now (listen below).
Ian Noe considers the album the flip side to his debut, a lot more positive, and even funny in spurts, but once again drawn from the characters and landscapes of his native Kentucky, just like many of the songwriters of the region. With songs written both before and during the pandemic, he actually came up with the title of the album first, then wrote songs to fit that theme.
“I’ve got so much material I can write about, of stories of all these people and just life in general, growing up there,” Ian Noe says. “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.”
Working with Dave Cobb on his debut, this time Ian collaborated with producer Andrija Tokic, and took a bit more time in the studio. Some of the notable musicians on the album include “Little” Jack Lawrence of The Raconteurs on bass, and keys player Derry deBorja of The 400 Unit.
“With Dave, we went and knocked it out in seven days, recorded and mixed. Two weeks, if you include the mastering,” Noe told The Influences in October. “This time I ended up going to a place called the Bomb Shelter, run by Andrija Tokic who recorded Alabama Shakes’ first album. I’ve always wanted to go and work with him, plus he works strictly to tape. It was a different experience and I enjoyed having no set time on how long I can work on a song, that way I can flesh it out. I think we recorded close to twenty tracks all together. Nothing against Dave Cobb’s process which was great too, but it was fun working on this one, it really was.”
The first song from the album “Pine Grove (Madhouse)” is very much a pandemic-era 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 Fools & Mountain Saints will be released via Thirty Tigers, and is now available for pre-order.
1. Pine Grove (Madhouse)
2. River Fool
3. Lonesome as It Gets
4. Strip Job Blues 1984
5. Tom Barrett
6. Ballad of a Retired Man
7. Mountain Saint
8. One More Night
9. POW Blues
10. Burning Down the Prairie
11. Appalachia Haze
12. Road May Flood / It’s a Hurricane