Blackwater from what I can gather is a complete solo effort by Ben Noonan. Apparently Noonan was talking with major record labels to no avail. He was turned off by their politics and this event seemed to be at least partially responsible for his album Hearts and Daggers to come to fruition.
With twelve songs and no filler this is a girth-y album that will most likely take some time to fully appreciate. You can hear shades of acts like Bruce Springsteen in some ways as well as The War On Drugs and even Bon Iver. None of the references are overt; in fact they are subtle which is why the album works so well.
At its heart Hearts and Daggers revolves around strummed guitar chords and vocals. There are ornamental instruments and effects which usually add to this foundation. Luckily Noonan doesn't over produce and lets the songs breath.
He opens with “Up All Night “ which is arguably the most single worthy song of the twelve. It also has the right criteria to be a radio hit. That being said I thought some of the other songs felt a little more original. One of the highlights is the very next song entitled “Little Relief.” The song is catchy and I thought that main guitar riff was additive.
Noonan is one of those artists who can pull off melancholy. One of those tracks is “Not With You.” Subtle organ and sparse guitar wrap around his voice like a cocoon. His vocal performance is top notch and is in a very comfortable vocal range for this track. Other songs like “Irish Grace” and “Crazy” are other melancholy songs that Noonan delivers with eloquence. Another potential single is “Statues of Our Fathers.” This was one of my personal favorites on the album. There is a clear vibe of Americana in this song and Noonan pulls it off.
Hearts and Daggers isn't without its flaws. I have to admit I wished the recording quality was a little bit better at times. That being said these are minor issues comparatively. Hearts and Daggers is a solid album with a nice mix of songs. Some songs feel cathartic while others feel contemplative, etc. Recommended.
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