Coming out of the fire and into the light, the Americana keeper sidesteps his chosen genre’s boundaries to get high and rock dry.
If handling bass with 500 MILES TO MEMPHIS provides Noah Sugarman with a country punk outlet, his parallel solo career goes around more curious, if less hilarious, bend, where contradictions rule the game. No, the usual humor isn’t absent from his second solo album – the trilogy of “My Brain”, “My Face” and “My Teeth” packs it neatly – but now there’s no recklessness to throwing caution to the wind, and psychobilly-shaped opener “Ladders” posits it straight with much gusto. The music moves up an upbeat gear when Sugarman tackles the blues of “City Hall”, where irresistible slide-sleeked steel guitar swings ever so wildly as it grows from the bare bass strokes to an elegant electric rumble, but this time around his seriousness proves to be the most shaking ground.
His is a voice too keen in the plaintive department of the theatrical flow of “Baby King” or “Who Does” with its exquisite, though short, acoustic solo, yet once the booming, hypnotic “Thunder” uncovers its full power the reserve gets blown away for the aforementioned hat-trick to kick in. “Say hello to a fist”? With such a crunch, why not? It’s that blood-pumping in places, although it’s the harmonica-harnessed “Heros & Heroines” that tugs on one’s heart-string in the strongest way. After this, the parting question “Do you feel alive?” seems redundant. Blackout has been lifted now.