It was over a year ago that I caught Ben Noble at The Bryant Lake Bowl in Minneapolis (you can read my ramblings on that show HERE!) and I remember the sense of calm he was able to bring over me with just his music (sure, the chill atmosphere at The Bryant Lake Bowl helped too). Today is yet another Saturday where my chore list feels overwhelming and the anxiety-inducing thought of having to go to the grocery store seems to have taken me over. I needed something to calm me down and I had a good feeling that Ben Noble’s new-ish album ‘Where The Light Comes In’ would do just the trick.
As soon as “Night Wakes” took over my speakers, I knew I was in for a treat. Ben’s familiar and calming voice came in like the warm hug that I needed on this beautiful Saturday morning. The instrumentation behind his voice grew and fell without hesitation creating the atmosphere I was looking for just before the track really kicked into a groovy and chill sound. What a way to open up an album. Sure, it was only the first track but “Night Wakes” was already a favorite of mine.
The 53 seconds of “Wolf Eyes” flew by but not before catching my ear. It is an atmospheric track that somehow catches you even though, at face value, it is simplistic. I listened to it a couple of times and, with each listen, caught a different element in this track. 53 seconds is short but Ben Noble used the time of this track brilliantly before letting the album move into “Bluebird”. Ben’s voice comes through loud and clear over the almost electronic sounding instrumentation. There’s a dancy beat to this song that I don’t recall Ben having at the show I saw him at but that I loved it. “Bluebird” had me moving around in my seat with a smile on my face.
“Steady” slows things down a little bit and instantly took me back to that fateful night at The Bryant Lake Bowl. Atmosphere chill rock with an undeniable sense of conviction and soul, Ben Noble shows his true colors on this song and if you don’t find it stunning then I really don’t think there’s any help for you. I listened to “Steady” a couple of times just taking in all of the words that were so flawlessly placed over the notes before moving onto “Beneath Your Wings”. I have to be honest, “Beneath Your Wings” didn’t hit me in the right place like “Steady” did but I think it was because the mood shifted into something a little more somber and I just wasn’t in the mood for that this morning when listening through this album. I will say this, “Beneath Your Wings” is a song that shows off Ben’s voice. Silky and smooth, even though the song didn’t catch me, his voice did and I can’t wait to revisit this song when I’m in a different mood that will help me appreciate it more.
The tempo comes back up for “Turning”. A funky blues line introduces the song before the sound of drums and other instrumentation comes in. A delayed start to Ben’s vocals, I love that when the vocals do come in, it’s not exactly what you were thinking was going to happen. I was thinking funky and almost jazzy but Ben stays true to his atmospheric and airy voice with his vocals on this one which someone works perfectly with the groovy instrumentation. That light and airy aspect of Ben’s voice continues through “Lionheart” which takes the funkiness of “Turning” and seems to just calm it down a little bit more. One of the genius things about Ben is he is able to make each song distinctively his without having each song sound the same.
“Weeping Willow” is one of the more interesting tracks on this album for me. Ben seems to manipulate his voice in different ways creating interesting layers and sounds while keeping the song simple and easy flowing. I wouldn’t say this was a favorite of mine track of mine but I will say it had me fascinated and truly created an atmosphere which is hard to do with just hearing a song, not seeing it performed. It took over my living room like the warmth and light of a candle and it had me completely captivated.
“Blind” took over my speakers and my heart within the first couple of seconds. This track is playful while still having a very mature and controlled vibe to it. This is one of those songs that I didn’t want to end. It had so many different elements to it and seemed to shapeshift within the three and a half minutes that it had control of my speakers. If I had to pick out just one song for you to listen to to really understand Ben Noble’s sound and influences, it would be “Blind”. “Blind” is followed up by “Earthshake” which, like “Wolf Eyes” which is somehow absolutely genius while being, at face value, simple and just noise. Like cleansing the palatte, the placement of these purely atmospheric tracks is genius and the complexitiy that you hear when you really listen to the track is stunning.
Closing in on the end of this album, Ben clearly still has some tricks up his sleeve as “Child of Earth” takes over. At nearly seven minutes long, I thought I would for sure lose interest in this song before the end found my speakers but, instead, I found myself listening to this song a few times before moving on. I know I’ve brought up the perfect swells and falls of sounds in this album a couple of times now but it’s heard loud and clear on “Child of Earth”. At times the swells get so big that the song almost has an avant-garde/ noise vibe to it which had yet to be heard on this album and just goes to prove how versatile this man can be and how creative his mind is. I won’t give anything else away about this song but “Child of Earth” is a must listen to song on this album.
Closing out the twelve songs of total bliss is “My Beautiful Blinding Light”. A bit more traditional in a sense compared to “Child of Earth”, it is the perfect ending to a perfect album. Clearly I was caught by majority of the twelve tracks on this album but there was something painfully beautiful about this last one that had me not wanting this album to end. Instead of wanting to go back to the beginning to start the journey of ‘Where the Light Comes In’ all over again, I had to listen to “My Beautifu Blinding LIght” a couple more times.
I knew I was going to get some warm, inviting and comforting from Ben Noble’s latest release but I ended up getting so much more than just those things. A true work of art, ‘Where The Light Comes In’ will not be leaving my stereo anytime soon.
My Favorite Track(s): “Night Wakes”; “Blind”; “My Beautiful Blinding Light”
For Fans Of: Calmness; Waves of sound; Innovation
Daydream-ability: 7.7 out of 10
What My Cats Thought Of It: Autumn paced around the living room because she saw a bird outside; Artie chased my Roomba around
My Overall Rating: 4.5 out of 5
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