Australian Blake Noble moved half way round the globe to Seattle just ten months ago and the self professed “Underdog,” found many a kindred spirit to help him release his second solo album. The eight track ,mainly instrumental album draws upon Noble’s unique percussive guitar style that picks up where long lost legend Michael Hedges left off; but don’t be fooled this is not “New Age,” music rather a funk rock, jazz, world music fusion for this century.
The opening track “Tsunami,” begins with the guttural moan of the aboriginal Didgeridoo then soon launches into a whirling dervish as Noble is joined by his rhythm section of Isaac Castillo on upright bass, and the rambunctious drumming of Heather Thomas. Nevada Violinist Tim Snider soars above the trio adding the perfect melancholy counterpoint to the frenzy below. Vocalist Cody Beebe then joins Noble in paying tribute to his new found home in the Seattle styled rocker “Truck,” which also features some devastating electric bass playing from Eric Miller. The aggressive rhythms and touches of Middle Eastern flair quickly bring to mind Sound Garden and Alice in Chains in their 1990’s heyday.
A fine string section adds color to the pastoral ballad “Michelle,” taking us through the dramatic love story told in song. Noble guides us on a tour of his native land with the next two selections; evoking visions of waves crashing on the shore in “Perpetual Leader,” then burns up the creosote following the sun across the desert plain on the driving “Rainbow.” Beebe returns to deliver tender vocals on a tale of lost love in “North Carolina,” as Noble weaves a spell with arpeggio and hammer-on guitar lines. The country two step of “Around The World,” feels like something from the Zac Brown Band, if they went to Australia that is. The album closes with the tribal chant of “Waitomo,” and bridges the distance between the natives of North America and New Zealand in a dancing fury.
Blake Noble truly takes us on a globetrotting escapade on his album Underdog; we return cleansed and full of spirit previously unknown.
Rick J Bowen