Folk music just as folklore itself is an ever changing genre that always find its way to blend with other styles in such a haunting way. In the right hands, just like Rock music, a change on the tempo or an addition of an instrument can make a big difference. You get this traditional bluegrass-y sounds, but also as music itself evolves throughout time, you get a much rather darker and haunting approach to the genre. You have your bright, uplifting Mumford and Sons or The Lumineers, and then you have your rather much conscious, those who require you to sit and listen, you know, the Bob Dylan, Hank Williams.
Whiskey Priest by Minneapolis transplant Ben Noble dives between these two waters, while it explores other lands, both the dark and eerie forests and the sunny landscapes and both time not disappointing. The album kicks off with “Birthmark,” a song that showcases the gloomy corners of the artist’s mind with its acoustic chords repeating over and over again as a violin adds the somber layers in a twist that hints the great Radiohead. “Healer Might” is a shorter track where vocals play a major (and only) role throughout the entire record in what can be considered a departure. Things get much upbeat as we progress, yet the introspective approach keeps building over and over.
There’s not too much negative things to report, fans of Folk music will adore this album. However, and this is a nitpick from my part, but I would have loved for a balance in the mood of the record. It’s on the haunting first track where Noble shines the most and while the rest of the record is good, it never hit those heights of creativity. The material while it switches subtlety on tone, there’s a sense of consistency that unfortunately may drive some from exciting to tiresome.
Criteria - 80%
In the end, there’s many great things to look forward on Ben Noble’s Whiskey Priest. It fools you to believe you will be diving into the psyche of a complex person, just to wrap up in a familiar and safe territory. Hopefully moving on, Noble will get to grow as an artist and let himself loose a bit. In the meantime, this is a great introduction into the mind of a creative musician with the tools necessary to breakthrough into tough waters.