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Speakeasy Studios SF

"High Desert Daydream" First Pressing Black Vinyl Limited Edition LP by Noelle & The Deserters

"High Desert Daydream" First Pressing Black Vinyl Limited Edition LP by Noelle & The Deserters

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Noelle & The Deserters bring South-Western honky tonk from the high deserts of New Mexico to the golden hills of California.  Fronted by singer-songwriter Noelle Fiore, their music draws inspiration from the likes of Emmylou Harris, Loretta Lynn, Marty Robbins,  J.J Cale, Gene Clark, Townes Van Zandt, and the great outlaw country players. The Deserters include seasoned players Graham Norwood (guitar), Alicia Vanden Heuvel (The Aislers Set)(bass), David Cuetter (Tarnation)(pedal steel), and Jerry Fiore (Sonic Love Affair)(drums), all based in the Bay Area and Sacramento.  Noelle was raised in Taos, New Mexico.  As a guitar player and vocalist, she was a founding member of Sweet Chariot, singing and playing guitar/ banjo.  Later, she and Tim Cohen (The Fresh & Onlys) founded the band Magic Trick, recording four full length albums for labels Hardly Art and Captured Tracks.  Noelle is also a current member of the Shannon Shaw Band, on guitar and vocals.  

High Desert Daydream is Noelle & The Deserters debut album, out May 31, 2024 on Speakeasy Studios SF.  The songs on the album, written by Noelle, touch on life in the west, growing up in Taos, living in California, songs of love, memory, marriage, work, good times, and bad times.  Like all classic country music, the songs are infused with a sense of real-life struggles and living life in the everyday.  Noelle’s incredible voice carries the album, and her songs are at once moving, powerful, tender, humorous, and intimately relatable.  

The lush and textured musical performances of the Deserters places the songs on a musical journey that, while giving nods to the greats in classic country of the 60’s and 70’s, pushes the sonic landscapes into spaces truly of this moment.  References abound, but the craft on this album, from the mind-bending yet delicately restrained guitar licks of Norwood, on songs like “Born in the Morning”, to the psychedelic pedal steel of Cuetter on the David Lynch/ spaghetti-western/ murder ballad “Now I’ve Got You,” truly take country music into a new territory.  The musical arrangements push the sonic landscapes into complex yet lighthearted storytelling.  The lush trumpets provided by label-mate Anna Hillburg on “Taos” harken to desert nights by the kiva, while the easy banjo strums of Paige Anderson (Two Runner) on “Canyon,” take you to the banks of the Rio Grande.  The piano, Hammond organ and accordion playing contributed by friend Joel Robinow (Once & Future Band)  fill out the musical spaces that make the songs feel familiar, instantly relatable.   The restrained sensibilities of the musicians pushing the song forward with sincerity and beauty is prevalent throughout, a testament to the Deserters musical talents as well as the production style of the album.  

Produced by Noelle Fiore and Alicia Vanden Heuvel (The Aislers Set), “High Desert Daydream” feels country, yet of the west, of California and New Mexico, of experimental fronts in country music, and is truly a work of beauty.  The album was recorded and mixed by engineer Peter Craft at Boxer Lodge Studios in Angwin, California in late 2023, during a five day recording session.  

Born in the Morning,” the first single off the album, is a barn-burning honky tonk number about looking for a reason to get out of a bad relationship and not being fooled by the empty words from a lover. “Tell me again, make it good this time…so I won’t ask you to stay.”  Drawn from   Noelle’s biggest inspiration, Emmy Lou Harris’ rendition of the song  “Luxury Liner”, the band really sets it on fire as Noelle tells the story of a love gone bad.  Norwood’s blazing guitar licks, underscored with Vanden Heuvel’s driving bass line, shows the togetherness of the band, seamlessly setting the stage ablaze in a hard charging fusion of rock and honky-tonk, letting Noelle’s sometimes restrained voice to go full throttle.  

The saying “I was born in the morning but not this morning” was borrowed from my 71 year old coworker (office manager) at the dental office I’ve worked at since my 20’s. She is an Italian American who has spent her whole life in Pacifica, CA where she has this huge family. She is a funny caretaking lady who takes absolutely no shit.  I told her I was gonna write a song about it one day and I finally did. I figured a song about a non committal lover would be a good concept. It’s really just a fun story inspired by that saying.”

The second single, “Watching Billboards Change” is about commuting to work each day, working hard at relationships, working hard at life, dreaming of what life could be and how to get there, feeling almost broken down by the journey, but looking out the window and finding reasons to keep going. 

 “It’s a song about commuting, essentially. But, it's also about being a people pleaser and going to great lengths to show up for someone/something that you feel obligated to.  It’s knowing that it’s breaking me down and I have to stop but my pride won't allow me to. There are rare beautiful moments of driving while everyone is still asleep, it can be very contemplative and I’ve done some of my best writing while begrudgingly driving 2-3 hours to get to work.”

The third and final single off the album “Canyon” is a song about growing up in New Mexico, going back home and the feelings of loss, with a nostalgia for the past.  When things that used to be so close aren’t there anymore… “you never let go of my hand, as we jumped in the Rio Grande.” For losing people. “I know your face, but I forgot your name.”  The song tips its hat to Neil Young’s “Alburquerque” and like that song, is about journeys, loss, memory, and the spaces unique to the southwest desert, which vast expanses lend themselves emotionally contemplative space.  The groove of the song has an easiness that feels like going home, familiar, and the intense emotion Fiore’s vocal counterbalanced with the feedback guitar drives it home, in a good way.   

The tunes on the album make up a whole work that references real life, the struggles we face, the beauty we find, with themes that are deeply personal, yet treated with humor.  Noelle has a skill at writing songs that don’t take things too seriously, yet with a heart and a sincerity that is touching throughout the album.  Noelle takes the sincere peppered with clever humor approach to “Church of Dog”.  The song is dedicated to Emmy Lou Harris, who once said in a NY Times interview, when asked if she was religious, that she belonged to the “Church of Dog.”  The song might seem lighthearted, playful on the surface, but is a dedication to saving the lives of shelter dogs.

  “ I started volunteering as a shelter dog walker in 2015 while I was not working because I was going through cancer treatment. Luckily, I physically felt strong, but I needed something to put my energy into that would keep the fear at bay. Getting involved with dog rescue COMPLETELY changed my life. It opened my eyes to the plight of homeless shelter dogs and how severe their risk is for loss of life. I went 100% in and did everything I could possibly do to help. It’s absolutely my passion to promote adopting shelter dogs and do anything in my power to make the lives of shelter dogs better, and really to help save lives.


A love song to the little high desert town in Northern New Mexico that Noelle grew up in, “Taos” is a tapestry of remembering departed friends, old bars she used to spend time in, the scent of the landscape (sage and piñon), the snow set against adobe… while the musical vibe of this song has elements of Marty Robbins, with a definite nod to classic Mariachi and Tejano music of the southwest.  “A Way Back” is a song that was written by friend and sometimes collaborator Andrés Miguel Cervantes, specifically for Noelle to sing, for her voice to carry a story of longing and leaving and the power of memory to transport you back to a loved one when they need you. 

 “Wonder Why I Wander” could be described as the emotional heart of the album… the most biographical, a testament and warning about wanderlust…. the duality of leaving, in which you have both the pain of leaving things behind, and the desire to hit the open road, at once an escape and a desire for change.   

High Desert Daydream comes out May 31, 2024 on Speakeasy Studios SF, a new and burgeoning folk and indie label focused on singer-songwriters run by producer and musician Alicia Vanden Heuvel. Noelle is a songwriter within a movement that is changing the face of country music.  A movement of voices from the western coast and western deserts, with musical inspiration from the past while writing about real life in the present, from new perspectives.  Noelle and the Deserters find themselves in musical company amongst a greater community of songwriters breaking new ground within the tradition of American country music.  This album is their debut and what a beautiful, well crafted debut it is!

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