The connection between the heart and soul of Noble Son singer/songwriter Adam Kirschner and American musician Joel Hamilton provides important context for Noble Son’s first full length studio album. Kirschner first connected with Hamilton in the infancy of what soon became Noble Son, 2006, and their initial collaboration resulted in a particularly productive period of songwriting, but it wasn’t until 2011 that Kirschner felt empowered enough to consider entering the recording studio and shaping the material into a fully realized work. He enlisted Hamilton’s commitment to help with the project only for Kirschner to back out due to misgivings about his ability to see it through.
Kirschner later redoubled his efforts after moving to a different area in Canada and, working with producer Dave Meszaros, has released two EP’s in the last six years under the Noble Son name. Another bout with the effects of mental illness spurred the latest entry in Noble Son’s discography and Kirschner has, once again, enlisted the help of Joel Hamilton and other musicians to help finish a full length recording. They achieve mighty things together on the recording Joy in Violence.
“Problem Daughter” sets the emotional tone for the album from the beginning. It’s an inward looking effort, despite boasting other characters along the way and far from focusing on the songwriter himself. In fact, the songs like this and others to come showcase a writer who is seemingly looking outside himself in some respects and trying to maintain his own steadiness while he determines what meaning there is to these things going on around him. Kirschner will get under the skin of many listeners. The guitar fueled pyrotechnics in the song’s final half is an anomaly on Joy in Violence, but it works.
“Aces” is much more in keeping with the album’s general demeanor and features a sparse, laid back vibe that broods but sustains enough melody to keep listeners from feeling mired in despair. There are occasions, however, when Kirschner’s songwriting vision stretches, like during “Jessi”, that some of his audience will find themselves in alien territory rather than experiencing a unique songwriting sensibility. One of the album’s best moments comes, however, with the title song and Kirschner delivers one of the most unified performances on the album primarily due to the contrasts making the tune stand out even more and some splendid, understated guitar playing.
Noble Son Provides An Elegant Yet Innovative Sound
It’s hard to not hear the wrenching desire for another filling every line and nuance of “Don’t Stop (Stay Inside Me)” and, likewise, not note the many implications, all intentional, behind the lyric. He delivers the song full of pathos, never pandering, and it has a breathtaking impact on your experience of the song. “You Are Your Mother” takes a turn of phrase, usually spouted off in the heat of argument, and turns it into memorable art thanks to another of the album’s best lyrics and sensitive musical accompaniment that ranks among the most delineated and well-chosen compositions on the release.
The finale “Love You Back” has an appropriately final air and, once again, broaches matters of immense personal intimacy with startling language and an attention to detail any listener will likely admire, if not love. Noble Son’s Joy in Violence is one of those rare albums that comes along every five years or so and manages to creatively, gently, overturn many of your preconceptions about what songs can communicate in 2018.
-review by Scottie Carlito