Noah Zacharin – Points of Light
This comes as a handsome 6-panel with lyrics printed on the inner spread. Canadian singer-songwriter Noah Zacharin has a gruff lived-in beachcomber look but his songs are pure as cold stream water. There are times he appears to be an outcast from The Beach Boys’ earliest days. But he’s a fingerstyle guitarist & Points of Light (Drops Nov 3–Sonicpeach) is his 9th CD that features 11 “points of light.”
Produced by Danny Greenspoon, songs explore struggling relationships, some exhumed songs from the past, blues dabbling, sprays of jazz, swing numbers, pastoral folk & nothing too mainstream or sticky sweet.
Blessed with an expressive voice & poetic lyrics Noah adds his intricate guitar work to embellish his tunes in a manner that the late Nick Drake & Duncan Browne had. Noah isn’t exactly a fully-fledged country singer but a sophisticated singer-songwriter who can dip his finger into any jar of style & make it his own. He integrates Hank Williams & Guy Clark; he has that storytelling casualness & intenseness Gordon Lightfoot brought to many of his songs (“Cotton Jenny” to “Edmund Fitzgerald”) & tonality he touches upon the songwriting style of the late David McWilliams (“Days of Pearly Spencer,” “Marlena”).
There are times with a little jazzy concession he taps into “Bed of Nails,” which sparkles like an old Lambert-Hendricks & Ross declaration. Noah proves if his career hits a snag he can turn to jazzy numbers & switch from beer to wine.
Fortunately, the songwriting is original enough to not be compared to any one style. John Martyn was that kind of performer, as Gerry Rafferty, Townes Van Zandt & John Prine. Some songwriters focus on people, places & things. Others their experiences, adventures & stories ripped from the headlines. Noah rides a pensive pathway much the same as James Taylor & Mickey Newbury.
Sometimes great guitarists play wonderfully but they don’t have material or can’t sing. Not being able to sing was what held the late Roy Buchanan back. His guitar soared & his voice was lukewarm. He narrated more than sang. Guitarists like Robin Trower & Jeff Beck depended on a lead vocalist. John Fahey just played his guitar. But Noah Zacharin does both with gusto & has written originals that radiate.
Highlights – “17 Minute,” “Bed of Nails,” “So Much Work To Be Done,” “Red Red Bird,” “Lester Brown,” “Tom Morrow,” “Done Gone Gone” & “Been A Long Day.”
Musicians – Noah (vocals/acoustic guitar/archtop & resophonic guitar), Russ Boswell (electric & upright bass), Gary Craig (drums/percussion/humming) with Denis Keldie (B3/piano/accordion), Burke Carroll (pedal steel guitar), Kevin Breit (mandola/mandocello/electric & baritone guitars), Marc Ribot (ukulele), Roly Platt (harmonica), Kevin Turcotte (trumpet) & Drew Justice (string arrangement/strings).
CD cover image courtesy of Mark Maryanovich & car image from Noah’s website. The 49-minute CD @ https://noahzacharin1.bandcamp.com/album/points-of-light & https://www.noahsong.com/