Noah Earle
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Noah Earle


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""I greet you at the beginning of a great career.""

Beware of songwriters bearing postcards. And beware especially of a
smooth-talking, smooth-singing confidence man like Noah Earle, whose new album’s title
and cover invite us to recall those cherished, short-form postal missives of a
bygone, motor-court America.

Trouble is, when you start to dig into Mr. Earle’s music, his songs bear
little resemblance to those colorful rectangles of friendship. Instead, they more
closely resemble an MRI scan of a troubled brain, or a seismograph of a
really bad day in Mr. Richter’s world.

And that, by the way, is a compliment. For the troubled brain in question
doesn’t belong to Mr. Earle, who seems preternaturally wise for one not yet 30.
No, the perplexed folks are the fascinating and unforgettable cast of
characters he brings to roaring, furious, compelling, and convincing life on this
impressive and rewarding disk.

Consider the young, single mother Earle creates in the song "Butter and
Bread." Her tale is told through a precise, carefully observed series of small
details. Her sump pump’s busted and her basement’s flooded. She had a job at the
feed mill, but that fell through. She’s emptying bedpans for a living, and
worrying about touching her two fatherless kids with those bedpan hands. Sure,
she may "live on the same side of the street as you," but she also lives on
"government grape juice and government cheese." And "when we talk about going
without/ It’s in the present tense." (At some point, the narrator of the song has
merged with the mother, and so will you — which is the point, after all.)

As a songwriter, Earle is a brilliant documentarian, a Ken Burns of the
ordinary, a chronicler of American life who turns his unrelenting gaze on small
conflicts rather than epic battles. His first, self-produced album, the fine 2004
work Six Ways from Sunday, was a collection of lacerating character
portraits, the best of them focusing on childhood memories burnished into memorable
musical short stories.

Earle continues to explore that vein in this new album, but he also seems to
be opening up his gaze, painting on a broader canvas. He’s writing more
straightforward love songs, like the sweet ballad "Middle of the Road", and his
newfound openness is a welcome step forward from the occasionally claustrophobic
Six Ways from Sunday.

But don’t mistake approachability for simplicity. Earle’s gifts for
complexity and irony continue to serve him well, as he refuses to settle for easy
sentiments. A simple waltz, I Hope You’re Awake, begins like a woozy homage to a
1920s string band. But all too soon the joyous dance takes an unexpected turn,
and our lovesick narrator is left alone, tossing and turning, and hoping that
his lost love "is awake now, too." Thanks for the postcard, amigo!

And then there’s the music itself: like his subject matter, Earle’s sound is
both captivating and challenging, propelled by his brilliant guitar chops —
he’s a supremely gifted fretman. More often than not, it’s Earle on solo
acoustic guitar who drives the songs, careening and almost out of control with
urgency, finger-picking like a whirlwind, churning out streams of notes that match
his clotted flow of words with their sheer intensity.

One listen to the urgent opening bars of "Head in the Sand" or the pulsating
riffs that drive "Better by Degrees" or the bluesy whine that kicks off "Cool
Drink of Water," and you’ll realize you’re in the hands of a master musician.
The album closer, "Bobwhite Twilight," is an instrumental workout that sounds
as if it was recorded live, outdoors in the gloaming. Warning: if you’re a
guitar player, hearing it may just want to make you put your instrument away for
a day or two.

Along with his guitar chops, his acute eye and his sympathetic heart, Earle
pulls another arrow from his quiver: a poet’s way with words. In the title
track, the word "home" shimmers and plays across a host of telling rhymes: loam,
Rome, dome, foam, tome, comb – each rhyme the perfect cap to a brilliantly
executed metaphor. Heck, Earle even manages to rhyme "photos" with "Dorothys and
Totos." Don’t try this at home, friends—the man is a professional.

Producer Mark Bilyeu adds a tasty helping of fiddle, steel guitar, and
percussion to lend tonal variety to the proceedings. But make no mistake: Postcards
from Home is a one-man show all the way. So I’m delighted to offer the same
salutation to Earle that Ralph Waldo Emerson extended to Walt Whitman after he
first read Leaves of Grass: "I greet you at the beginning of a great career."
That message arrived by telegraph, but let’s just pretend it was a postcard
from home, shall we?

--Kelly Knauer
- Ozarks Mountaineer

"Postcards From Home"

I don't remember ever being impacted by a songwriter the way I was with Noah Earle. There's no formula to the writing, and yet it is masterful, with a pureness that is completely unaffected. His songs are such a great combination of that depth and realness that goes into Americana. Noah Earle is truly an amazing artist. He will honestly change the way you think about folk music. He is best writer and singer I've heard in a long time. He speaks from the heart about what really matters in a man's life. Through smart, meaningful lyrics, he takes you into a world he has known all his life. He makes you believe the people in his songs have to be real, and, what's more, he makes you think you know them yourself.
-Freddy Celis,
- Roots Time

"Soul by the River"

Many things stick out about local singer-songwriter Noah Earle’s music, but the most poignant is his vocals. Looking at a picture of him, one might not expect it, but Earle’s voice is jam-packed with soul.
Most likely, he owes this important distinguishing quality to his family, who weaned Earle on gospel music as he grew up in Topeka, Kan. The young, gifted musician started playing instruments when he was 6 years old.
Soon after figuring out the guitar, Earle mastered the fiddle and perfected his vocal chops.
In high school, Earle’s musical taste changed often. He went from an R&B fanatic to an alternative-rock fiend.
At times, Earle’s music is catchy and lighthearted, but occasionally it takes a more serious, emotional turn.
In 2004, he released an album, "Six Ways to Sunday," to positive reviews, and this year he was a finalist at Memphis’ International Blues Competition.
-Columbia, MO - Columbia Tribune

"Songwriter doesn't stick to a single genre"

Noah Earle's focus is on rootsy, acoustic-leaning songs, but all are done with eclecticism and experimentation.

By Michael A. Brothers

While working on a new album with Springfield musician and producer Mark Bilyeu this year, singer and songwriter Noah Earle would sometimes pick up a guitar between recording sessions and start writing a new tune.
"Noah's got to be one of the most prolific guys I've ever been around," Bilyeu says. "... Every free moment he has it seems like he's picking up a guitar and working on a song."
It would be one thing if such high output yielded mediocre songs. But Earle, who plays at High Strung Music on Saturday, has originals worthy of keeping him on the regional circuit every weekend. He lives outside of Columbia.
Earle's songs span several genres, but his center of gravity is rootsy, acoustic-leaning songs featuring unusual characters or a narrative.
"I've always been drawn to eclecticism and experimentation within the gamut of roots genres — and trying to find the places where they intersect," says Earle, 28.
Those intersections lead to pieces like "Bring On the Apocalypse," semi-political tune disguised as a love song, all wrapped in a jaunty blues melody. Or "Six Ways to Sunday," the title track of his self-release 2004 CD, which combines pop and folk sensibilities. Jazz, R&B and country are also influences on Earle.
Admission is a donation, but Earle says he's more interested in getting new listeners to come out, adding, "I certainly don't intend to hold anybody to it."

-Springfield, MO - Springfield News-Leader

"Six Ways to Sunday"

The opening track to Noah Earle’s Six Ways to Sunday almost makes your ass twist off the bottom of your spine. He’s got a strong picking hand, a big dynamic voice that‘s more akin to a saxophone than much else, and a talent for well-considered songwriting…you won’t be disappointed.
-Andrew Cantine CRAM Magazine
- CRAM Magazine


Noah Earle Six Ways To Sunday 2004
Noah Earle Postcards From Home 2007



Postcards From Home is Noah Earle’s second CD of original material, and his first CD to be released on Missouri-based MayApple Records. Years of constant performing and writing combined with an abundance of natural talent are beginning to pay dividends, as this young songwriter consistently draws audiences and glowing reviews.

Noah Earle was born in Topeka, Kansas, “a good place to dig potatoes.” Surrounded by a musical family, he absorbed various strains of influence. His musical involvement began in early childhood when he would listen to the traditional country and country-gospel music that his family would play and sing at their gatherings. Between the ages of about 5 and 18 he underwent classical training for piano, voice and fiddle (his grandpa said “never let anybody call it a violin”). By the age of 10, he had decided that he wanted to write songs, like his uncle and grandfather. Throughout this time, he was also exposed to blues and jazz by his dad and uncle, both of whom performed in a number of bands. From these surroundings Noah has emerged as a formidable solo artist, displaying unmistakable talent through his deft finger-picking guitar style and an agile, soulful approach to his singing.

Earle’s first release for MayApple Records, Postcards From Home, finds him focusing his songwriting solidly in the Americana vein. His imaginative narrative style emerges from a lifetime of Midwest experience – fireworks, Keystone Light, channel cats, Quik Shops. Now residing on a farm in Hallsville, Missouri, he need only step outside to his own garden for earthly inspiration, reaping sentiments like those found in the heart-warming title track. Produced by Mark Bilyeu of Big Smith, Postcards is largely a stripped-down affair, a showcase for Earle’s playing and singing, but also benefits from the tasteful performances of the top tier of musicians in and around Springfield, Missouri.

Others have been quick to recognize Earle’s talent. In 2006 he won the solo category of the Kansas City Blues Challenge and was a finalist in the International Blues Competition in Memphis. Most recently, he was chosen as a New Folk finalist at the renowned Kerrville Folk Festival in 2007.