Review: Pedal Steel Noah, Texas Madness

Insta-famous teenager pushes beyond countrified novelty on debut EP

From Waylon and Willie to Cowboy Carter, Lone Star country has never conformed to Nashville standards. The all-instrumental debut EP of Pedal Steel Noah, aka Noah Faulkner, presents a different kind of Texas Madness. The 16-year-old Austinite amassed over 70,000 Instagram followers and a New York Times profile with a daily output of charmingly countrified alt-rock covers, always accompanied by his brother/bassist Nate and fluffy dog Kara. Outside of IG reels, his “let the pedal steel do the talking” M.O. still intrigues, thanks to a promising display of independent songwriting. More reinterpretations than covers, the guitarist plays the most memorable riffs from cuts by Joy Division, the Cure, and Tears for Fears – Ian Curtis’ “Love Will Tear Us Apart” vocal melody, Robert Smith’s cascading “Just Like Heaven” guitar – but then moves on, creating his own melodies. Elsewhere, two originals demonstrate a well-rounded understanding of country history: ominous “Cleopatra” recalls desolate spaghetti Western wastelands, while “Lucy and Dixie” jumps to 2000s radio hits with lighthearted piano. The five tracks successfully push beyond novelty or gimmick. Maybe he’ll try singing next?  

Pedal Steel Noah plays Haute Spot on April 26.

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