Listening to River Fools & Mountain Saints, the latest (second album) by Americana singer-songwriter Ian Noe you realize why he prefers Creedence Clearwater Revival to The Beatles. It is not just a question of style or leaning on roots music. As Noe puts it, “The Beatles didn’t have an ‘Up Around The Bend’. They didn’t have a ‘Bad Moon Rising’. It’s a whole different kind of thing, and they did that, most of the time, in less than three minutes.”
In a way, that CCR inspiration seems to have a deep connection with Noe, yet he seems to be moving it a bit more into the direction of folk and country (something John Fogerty was and is doing as a solo artist). Still, even more importantly, Noe is not just a simple CCR copycat, as his connection to roots music is quite personal, and even more so, he brings that personal into his music.
What he does share with CCR is the ability to keep things sweet and as short as possible and the ability to make simplicity count to the full, confirming that B.B. King thought that ‘simple notes are hardest to play.’ If you want them to sound good, that is.
And actually, what Ian Noe presents on River Fools & Mountain Saints goes beyond just good, with songs like “Tom Barrett” and “Ballad of a Retired Man” verging on sublime.