High energy fiddle-driven songs that make for a great summer soundtrack.
A 2019 tour with The Dead South seems to have seeped into the Noble Jacks’ song writing for their third album. That’s not to suggest this is a Dead South tribute record, more that new aspects of Noble Jacks’ own sound has come into focus by reflecting on the time spent with the Canadians. Having the time to perfect the songs over the enforced lay off from live work may also have brought a slightly different flavour to the music.
While the sound is still mostly about Will Page’s fiddle, there are hints of Pedal Steel on the title song, ‘Oceans’ and ‘Headstrong’ along with other small but significant changes in sound. Page says of the material here: “The songs encapsulate layers of storytelling vocals, warm guitars, driving drums and catchy riffs.” Opening song ‘Never Been Here Before’ sets out their stall and quite a number of the songs follow the same up-tempo pattern. ‘Faces’ with its handclaps and harmonica will become a live favourite I’m sure. The Dick Dale style guitar slide that runs through the song is a nice touch. The electric guitar work from Matt Deveson is excellent throughout the album. Even the nominally slower songs like ‘How Long’ have an energy to them that keeps your foot tapping.
Noble Jacks say they are “British Alternative Americana-Rock”although Page’s fiddle has at least as much of Scotland as Appalachia in it. The “Britishness” of their sound is a crucial point in making them stand out from the crowd. The inevitable comparisons are to The Levellers and Mumford and Sons, but Noble Jacks rise above either of those bands by being less bland and risk averse than Mumford and having better songs than The Levellers. Several of the songs here, among them ‘Rotating World’ and The Eagles meets The Pogues sound of ‘Late Night Train’ would make it onto plenty of radio playlists with a bit of plugging.
The pandemic allowed the band explored co-writing via Zoom with the likes of Katherine Priddy and The Wandering Hearts. “This is the first time we have collaborated with artists outside our band and it’s brought a rejuvenating new style with it,” Page suggests. [Working with outside collaborators] “was a great experience and pushed our skills outside our comfort zone,” he goes on to say that: “There is always a large dose of optimism within our music.” He’s right, that optimism is all over the music on ‘Last Of The Wild’ which is a thoroughly uplifting listen.
The headline on their website describes them thus: “With the fiddle leading the charge Noble Jacks are out take no prisoners with their high-energy footstompin’ rhythms”. And ‘Last of the Wild’ is exactly that. Look no further for an album to make you wish you were at a festival listening to them play these songs live.