There’s no beating around the bush necessary – Noble Son’s songs, nine in total on their debut full length Joy in Violence, reflect the tumult often governing Adam Kirschner’s internal and external life. Make no mistake, however, these are not songs continuously mired in despair. Instead, these songs are the hard won result of an artist and feeling human being’s resiliency in the face of personal difficulties. He’s recruited a first class cadre of both musical collaborators and production help to assist realizing the immense potential underpinning these songs and the feeling of unity bringing this material together is impressive without ever betraying an over deliberate construction. It’s a very natural sounding work and the track listing has a flow that suggests the same attention to detail. Working alongside collaborators like Joel Hamilton and producer Dave Meszaros has resulted in Kirschner’s voice finding ideal expression through the vehicle of Noble Son.
“Problem Daughter” opens the album quite nicely and relies more on conventional song orchestration than many of those following it. There’s, likewise, a much stronger presence of guitar on this cut, particularly during the second half, and it’s memorably juxtaposed against a stylish vocal presentation that never comes off as overly coy. Kirschner doesn’t rely on solely his voice to carry the day with these nine songs and the added emotive edge brought by the extra vocal presence only accentuates his own strengths. The song ends with a cacophony of guitar. The second track on Joy in Violence, “Aces”, begins with the sound of someone inhaling sharply before we’re introduced to another meditative composition with a light, artful musical hand. The powers of characterization exhibited in Kirschner’s lyric are considerable and the plaintive musical arrangement highlights it quite well while still keying on some evocative twists along the way. The song builds a stately stride from seemingly threadbare materials but concludes on the same muted note it began.
“Above the Dirt” is a more conventional, in some respects, singer/songwriter number than we’re accustomed to from the earlier numbers. Acoustic guitar definitely makes its presence more felt than before while there’s a shambling amiability to the way Noble Son develops the song that further puts listeners in mind of a more folky influenced track. “Jessi” is one of the album’s most haunting numbers. It’s hard to adequately describe crystallized vulnerability in its elliptical arrangement and the painterly way added brushstrokes of instrumentation are layered into the writing. The near-whisper of Kirschner’s closely miked vocal is obviously deliberate and certainly has a theatrical effect, but it deepens the emotional weight of the piece. “Joy in Violence” is one of the album’s most important tracks and the fully developed arrangement, at odds with some of the earlier numbers, nonetheless sounds wholly consistent with Noble Son’s musical vision.
The shadowy and often stark tenor of “You Are Your Mother” is one of the album’s undisputable high points, both in terms of its nuts and bolts artistry as well as its effect on the listener. Joy in Violence concludes with the astonishingly honest, nearly confessional, vibe of “Love You Back” and the palpable ache coming together from both his singing performance, lyric, and musical arrangement brings a memorable final curtain down for this release. Adam Kirschner’s Noble Son project has released its finest work yet and one gets a sense of the journey that went into its gestation and final results.