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Noe Venable, Todd Sickafoose, Alan Lin

BOOTS (Petridish) • Noe Venable

Here we have a homegrown, full blown young musical visionary, and a window into a part of the new San Francisco sound. This train is headed somewhere.

Originally intending to be a playwright, the artist ended up laid up in hospital with an attention span of song length. Songs came, and became her new direction. Noe is now on her second CD, and she's surrounded with a capable team of co-creators. She's managed by Bonnie Simmons, a prominent fixture in the Bay Area scene, the former manager of Cake and a respected voice in radio for decades.

Bassist Todd Sickafoose produced and engineered this fine and individuated recording. They've got that combination working where the songwriter's lyrics and melodies are original enough to where the production can be creative but radio friendly, and the overall effect is one of real art that could be very big. Not sure why a bigger label hasn't grabbed this fabulous winsome singer songwriter yet, but they will. Unless there's another plan afoot. Noe just came off tour with Ani DiFranco, and she did it all for and by herself, after all.

Noe Venable is pretty damn fantastic. Boots is a sensual spiritual odyssey, the gritty, angelic rite of passage of a young urban woman. She's unabashedly metamystical, and has just the voice to make it real. It's true and without affectation or even embellishment. The melodies are full of idealistic leaps and long notes, very classic movement that stands in high contrast to a scene full of vapid, gymnastic (so-called) R&B singers short on melody and shorter on meaning and long on choreography.

She's a looker and a visionary, it's a rare combination. It's not everyone that could or would pose for an album picture hugging a garbage can.

Beside producing, engineering, and playing bass, Todd Sickafoose plays keyboards, guitar, and does loops and other programming. Aside from that, he's not very involved. Scott Amendola plays very tasteful drums, we know him from the Charlie Hunter interview in this issue. Alan Lin on violin is a key player in the scheme. He's been in the group for four years, and uses various effects to achieve a vast array of colors and sounds. Adam Levy also shines on guitar, whom we saw backing up Norah Jones in Nashville a few months ago.

We're going to take a closer look at what's going on in San Francisco. Noe Venable has piqued our interest. Buy this record, it's beautiful. • FG

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