Noble Son – Joy in Violence
The power and intimacy coming together on Noble Son’s Joy in Violence is steeped in personal struggle. It’s a testament to Adam Kirschner’s talents that, despite his travails, the nine songs on the project’s first full length studio release retain entertaining musicality and a sure-handed virtuosity that never risks self-indulgence. We are invited to tour his life and make connections with our own without the songs or performer ever attempting to impose on us what meanings we should take away from the outing. His work with South Carolina based musician Joel Hamilton likewise benefits from the presence of other talents like Alex Dobson, Davey Baduk, and Andy Dixon. There’s a free flowing and natural chemistry between Kirschner and these musicians affecting each of the nine songs on Joy in Violence and certain to appeal to both devoted music fans and the more casual variety. Noble Son’s first full length album is an impressive statement by any measure.
Kirschner’s voice and words are the beating heart of the album and the arrangements are clearly structured to serve those two elements. Make no mistake, however, that the vividly cinematic treatment many of these songs receive elevates and enhances their appeal for listeners of every stripe. A chief example of this is the opener “Problem Daughter” – the expansive, top shelf alt rock arrangement is carefully escalated into a guitar mashup at the song’s end that never sounds gratuitous and gets carried off with just the right amount of focus. Kirschner’s typical approach is best embodied by songs like the second cut “Aces”, “Don’t Stop (Stay Inside Me)”, “You Are Your Mother”, and the closer “Love You Back”. Only the title cut shares any real similarities with the opener and, judging the flow of Joy in Violence’s track listing, there are tantalizing hints of a larger design governing the album’s development.
Lyrical highlights abound. “Aces”, “Above the Dirt”, and the late tune “Don’t Stop” are among the finest tracks on Joy in Violence for a number of reasons, but they definitely reflect Kirschner’s well honed penchant for sketching vivid, non-linear narratives with just a handful of telling details. One gathers these images possess enormous personal significance for Kirschner, but they likewise help flesh out three dimensional characters in a rare way for songwriting to accomplish. The latter song is particularly effective at doing so. The album’s title song, “Joy In Violence”, is another lyrical peak as well thanks to the same qualities and has a tighter relationship with its arrangement than some of the album’s other songs in the sense their contrast is crucial to fully appreciating the song. The last song on Joy in Violence, “Love You Back”, is vaguely reminiscent of the earlier “Don’t Stop” with its profoundly personal lyric laden with detail, but the naked emotional cast to his voice brings us fully into the song’s world and will move anyone willing to give it a chance. Noble Son has certainly peaked, for the time being, with this release and one of the most thrilling parts of hearing this album is how Kirschner and those he works with choose to set no real boundaries for where the music may take them. It’s something that bodes well for the future.