Man, the state of Kentucky (and really Appalachia in general) continues to be the North Star when it comes to quality country music.
We all know the heavy hitters like Tyler Childers, Sturgill Simpson, Chris Stapleton, but in the past few years we’ve seen a stellar crop of up-and-comers like Charles Wesley Godwin, Cole Chaney, Sierra Ferrell, John R. Miller, and many, many more capture the hearts of music fans.
And, Ian Noe is another name you can throw on that list.
Noe’s debut album, Between The Country, was one of my favorite albums of 2019, but he’s been relatively quiet since… until now…
Announced today, the Lee County, Kentucky, native’s sophomore album, River Fools & Mountain Saints, is officially slated for release on March 25th.
In conjunction with the announcement, Noe has released lead single “Pine Grove (Madhouse),” and it’s a steel and piano-packed jam about really having nothing to do but party.
He says the song was inspired by the isolation from the pandemic:
“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.”
Of course, much like many artists in the region, Noe writes what he knows… and the result, a story about life in Appalachia. And the literal geography of the region is what inspired the title:
“That landscape and that geography of growing up in Lee County, Kentucky. 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.”
Citing a wide array of influences from Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, and John Prine to M.I.A. and Courtney Barnett, Noe says it was actually Alabama Shakes’ self-titled debut and Margo Price’s records 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.”