Noah Gabriel to release 10th solo album
Available July 10, 2020
The digital world has made art so much easier to experience, yet listeners are choosing less and less of it to hear, at least all in one setting. In a music world dominated by streaming giants like Spotify and Apple Music, the battle for albums and full, time-intensive experiences over short singles and manically curated playlists has been a losing one. In turn, artists are less likely to create a document with a definitive beginning or end. Suddenly, the creation of an album as just a bunch of singles put together -- which is how those very first Beatles records came to be, well prior to artistic statements like Rubber Soul or The White Album -- is back.
Yet, there are artists who still treat the journey of an album as seriously as how they record it. Enter Noah Gabriel, a veteran of the suburban Chicago music scene who -- with his stunning tenth album Summer's Gone -- literally and figuratively is opening doors for those who care to take the ride.
Inspired heavily by the National guitar sound of Hotel Vast Horizon (the 2003 release from since-departed blues/rock troubadour Chris Whitley), Summer's Gone opens with the clanging of archaic, freight elevator doors from where the album was recorded, Kingsize Soundlabs in Chicago. The album also closes with a similar sound, leading the listener back out into their world after spending time with 11 terrific songs about struggle, triumph and the road in between. Upon arriving to the studio for the first time, Gabriel says "We clanged our way up and when we got out we came up to another giant door, which opened to another door and finally we were there. At some point in the recording of the record I just thought it would be great to get the sound of all those doors opening and closing. The entrance to the studio and the exit. To me, it just puts me back in that room and I got a kick out of it."
The proper first track, the road-trip heartbeat of "All Or Nothing," speaks to being unable to stop the hands of time, yet rejecting the idea that all the world's pain must be felt first-hand. Recorded live in just two days with bassist John Abbey (owner of Kingsize) and drummer Gerald Dowd, Gabriel's whopping 10th proper release over fifteen years runs the gamut from the propulsive, pick-heavy mastery to contemplative musings on hurt and help ("Crazy," "Rocking Horse Road," "Somewhere Down the Line"), where Dowd's percussion choices especially makes listeners feel like they're in the room.
The addictive, self-reflective mantra of "Wonder Boy" marks the debut (in more ways than one) of Noah and his wife Rachel's son Jude on record, with is first few cries after being born being captured by Noah shortly after delivery. "If you listen close," reveals Gabriel, "you can hear the heart monitor on him too. Everybody thinks that’s a tune about Jude, but I look at it more as a reminder to myself to keep my shit together amidst the fear and failures in life. Those cries were a big wake up call and I’m just trying to answer it."
That type of call isn't unfamiliar territory to Gabriel: Whether it's the pull of steel strings that fueled the creativity for Summer's Gone or his 2017 concept record Dead Reckoning (projecting an intimate look at depression and death), he consistently challenges himself and those around him. What he may not know himself is that Gabriel is always answering those calls, and with each subsequent album, more and more listeners are answering as well.