Noelle and the Deserters “High Desert Daydream”

Speakeasy Studios SF, 2024

Classic country themes with New Mexico flavour from Noelle and the Deserters’ debut release.

Artwork for Noelle and the Deserters album "High Desert Daydream"Noelle & The Deserters are fronted by singer-songwriter Noelle Fiore, raised in Taos, New Mexico, and for this reviewer their debut release is a timely introduction to the music of Fiore and her band, having returned from a stay in Taos and the high desert just days before. From the up-tempo honky tonk opening track ‘Born in the Morning’, a story of good love gone bad,  it’s clear we’re in classic country mode, with Fiore’s vocals particularly reminiscent of the late great Loretta Lynn, and her band in fine form. Credits include Graham Norwood (Bryan Scary, Graham Norwood) on guitar, Alicia Vanden Heuvel (The Aislers Set) on bass), David Cuetter (Tarnation) on pedal steel, and Jerry Fiore (Sonic Love Affair) on drums, all based in the Bay Area and Sacramento.

‘Taos’ opens with evocative mandolin, credited to Jacob Aranda who also features on violin, with Fiore describing the beauty of the high desert, “the land of sagebrush and pinon”, adobe walls and the quirky characters to be found in Taos, including “old hippies”, to an arrangement also featuring mariachi trumpet from Anna Hillburg.

Fiore’s lyrics are both observational and conversational, lending an intimacy that draws the listener in, as on ‘Watching Billboards Change’, describing her drive to work, “Speeding down the highway/staying in the lines/under skies so stormy/lighting up the signs/lighting up the skies”, where in her words “there are rare beautiful moments of driving while everyone is still asleep, it can be very contemplative and I’ve done some of my best writing while begrudgingly driving 2-3 hours to get to work.”

‘Church of Dog’ is dedicated to Emmy Lou Harris, flagged as big influence on Fiore, who apparently once said in a NY Times interview, when asked if she was religious, that she belonged to the “Church of Dog”, a prompt for a humorous take on looking out for shelter dogs, complete with a live dog recording outro. Humour also leads Fiore’s lyrics on ‘Our Love’s Got a Cold’, which would fit a Hank Wangford set perfectly, as she sings of needing “more than a tissue to fix our little issue”. David Cuetter’s pedal steel features prominently throughout, paired on ‘Canyon’ with a crunchier electric guitar sound, reminiscent of Neil Young, as Fiore sings “everything changes, but remains the same/ I know your face but I forgot your name”.

This is a fine set of songs, with Fiore in excellent voice and some pleasingly tongue in cheek lyrics to raise the spirits.

7/10
7/10

About David Jarman 117 Articles
Long time fan of Americana genre, from early days of Ry Cooder, through to today's thriving scene. Regular visitor to USA ( Nashville/Austin/Memphis/LA ) live music junkie, I play guitar, mandolin, harmonica, plus vocals, run monthly jam session in Broadstairs
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