Noah Guthrie is a singer/songwriter and musician from South Carolina, who classifies his music as Americana/Country. He was a contestant on the 13th season of America’s got Talent, competing in the semi-finals before being eliminated. I know him best however, because he was a cast member on season 6 of the hit Fox musical comedy-drama Glee, where he played Roderick Meeks. It was here where I first fell in love with Guthrie’s voice, and recently I reviewed his cover of Viva Voce by The Rocketboys, which was the first song he performed on the show, if you’re interested you can check that out here. Today, however I will be reviewing his album ‘Blue Wall’ which was released on January 14th 2022.
‘Hell or High Water’ opens with a light percussive fill, slowly backed up by charging guitars which merge perfectly between the harmony and richness of Guthrie’s voice. It’s a strong opening that shows fully what a phenomenal vocalist he is. This track has a nice vibe to it, a heaviness and weight, livened up by the energy of the guitars. Seriously though, the grit and melody in Guthrie’s voice is spectacular, he’s one of those people who just fill a room with his talent and performance.
‘That’s All’ also kicks off with a slow percussive beat, but the strings that kick in and merge with it are slower and more acoustic and ambient, and Guthrie matches the tone and melody really well, showing a deeper soulful edge to his husky and spirited vocal delivery. Full disclosure, I came into this, thinking I’d probably like what I heard but this really raised the bar because there is not a weak moment, and even just two tracks In I’m confident this album is going to be great. I liked the more even tempo of this track, especially since it gives Guthrie a chance to hit higher and harder, it is just honestly breathtaking.
‘Things to Fix’ changes things up by opening on some mellow guitar strings, blending quickly with Guthrie’s vocals, and again I’m just blown away by the emotion and range and depth that he’s capable of injecting into his performances. I really liked the energy of this track, the pacing, as it starts off slow and then builds as the track progresses. It’s also got some of my favourite instrumental work so far on the album, the guitar playing was just superb.
‘Welcome the Stranger’ is very heavy off the bat, hammering strings that just shake things up, in juxtaposition, Guthrie’s voice is softer here, still deep and resonant, but melodic and it works really well all together. It’s super close as there is not a dull moment in this album but I think this one just narrowly takes the top slot for me, as my personal favourite on the entire album. It’s hard to really define why, it’s just the ideal combination of the highly proficient and powerful instrumental backing and the amazing vocal performance.
‘High Enough’ slows things down again, a more subdued melody, but one with plenty of swing and rhythm to it, and Guthrie is up to the challenge giving us another sensational track, full of passion and intensity. I talked in the previous one about the combination of elements elevating the track, but this one has some of the best vocals on the entire album, and that is saying something as he has an excellent command of his voice.
‘Wishing I Was Wrong’ picks things up just a touch, more energy and yet it’s not a jaunty tune, it’s heartfelt and deep and it packs an emotional wallop that really registers throughout the song. Plus as regular readers will know, I’m a sucker for adding in things like violin or other similar instruments, and while they aren’t featured too heavily they do add some richness and texture to the track that just makes it so much better.
‘Feel It Now’ slows things down again, guitars lead us in this time, the guitar melody feels heavy without being drawn out or lingering too much on each note, and the result is a relatively even tempo number that again showcases the sheer power and versatility of Guthrie’s voice. I really enjoyed this track just as it was, but the addition of the heavier percussive notes really enriched the overall song.
‘Let the Damn Thing Break’ opens with slow guitar, and lingering vocals, both building in pace as the track progresses, the guitar adding energy and the vocals adding in power and richness and a certain showstopping quality that I’ve come to associate with Guthrie’s music. This song, like all of them, just has this abundance of vigour and intensity.
‘When You Go’ slows us down again, slow staccato strings and sincere singing, and sorry about the alliteration. But as we close in on the last few tracks on the album, Guthrie just keeps finding new ways to impress me. This track is just so heavy and deep, it’s the type of track which just washes over you and for the duration you can do nothing else, and think of nothing else but the unadulterated experience it is.
‘Last Time I Think of You’ keeps with the slower vibe, but the guitar has just a little bit more oomph this time, the perfect accompaniment of Guthrie’s vocals which shine throughout this number, his vocal mastery evident whether he’s hitting the low notes or the high notes. Much like the last track, this is a melody you can get lost in, and I suggest you do.
‘Only Light I Need’ is soft but adds a little more energy than the last couple of tracks, the gentle acoustic guitar is rich and warming, and compliments Guthrie’s vocals well. The powerful swells of his voice really work in this track, you just get caught up in the melody, I’ve discussed it in a few of these tracks now, and the best word to describe Guthrie’s music is captivating, it’s not just the awesome instrumental performance or even just the singing which as I’ve probably made clear is A+ but it’s the perfect fusion of both elements that make him such a talent.
‘Blue Wall’ is both the title track of the album, and the closer to what has been a top notch release, so it has a lot of pressure to meet or exceed those expectations and it is more than suited to the challenge. Much like the past few tracks it is slower and softer, and Guthrie delivers vocally, emotional and raw and engaging. I tend to prefer melancholic and sad songs, not quite sure why, but even his more emotional tracks are infused with his warmth and charisma and listening to them, I’ve found that even though I have my preferences, Guthrie is such a great performer that he can make anything work. After a few tracks with particularly strong instrumentals I personally felt that this had a very light and subtle instrumental backing, but compensated for with some of the most heartfelt and poignant vocals of the entire album.
So that’s what I thought of Noah Guthrie’s album ‘Blue Wall’ and if you want to check that out for yourself then head on over to Spotify. While you’re at it, make sure and support the artist by following them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
First Published on: https://offtherecordblog.org/