Noan Partly serves up bluegrass folk with a freeform jazz feel on her latest single ‘Jasmine Air’.
Noan Partly – ‘Jasmine Air’
Unless you’re a big country or bluegrass fan, you probably haven’t listened to a lot of banjo music lately. It may conjure up images of grating, frantic music with an interminable twang, but hear me out – the banjo can be a charming instrument when sensitively played. And in Noan Partly’s hands in ‘Jasmine Air’, it becomes something dreamy and whimsical. (Besides, I’ve always had a soft spot for famous banjo player Kermit the Frog.)
Noan Partly is a singer-songwriter currently based in Florida, describing herself as having a jazzy indie-folk style with midwest roots. Releases have been sporadic as she studies to be a music therapist, but this latest one is definitely worth a wait..
‘Jasmine Air’ is a dreamy jazz-bluegrass track that evokes longing and nostalgia, yet maintains an unpredictable mood to it.
Partly’s lyrics seem to be written from the point of view of an otherworldly storyteller, alternating between the personal – ‘We gave it all we had’ – to the commentator – ‘just a stone’s throw away from everything you always wanted’ – to the removed – ‘the turning of the seasons, and turn, and turn’. Her hiccupping, fluttering vocals owe a lot to folk and bluegrass, and may not be to all tastes, but display her dexterity and control. The darting melodies also betray a jazz influence, feeling almost improvised.
The banjo takes centre stage in the production, backed up by a beautiful string arrangement, both country and classically influenced, with gentle drums and samples of birdsong, to create a summery feel. The track alternates between the main song, and instrumental sections that up the tempo and play with the time signatures, almost like an impromptu dance breaks out. The overall effect is like overhearing some improvised song and dance by a sunshiney riverside – a little strange, but hypnotically lovely. Noan Partly won’t be for all listeners, but what she has created feels very unique.
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Words Eden Tredwell