Leah Nobel is one of my dearest friends here in Austin. We met each other at an open mic night at a place called House Wine. She’d moved to Austin only a few months before, and I’d recently moved back to town after a few years of finding myself in Europe.
After I shakily performed my three allotted songs, she approached me and chatted for a minute. I was immediately blown away by her confidence and lack of fear in carrying on a conversation with a complete stranger. After she left my table, I told myself to keep in touch. I knew that she was special.
A couple months later, I approached her to play a show with our band, and then we slowly started becoming friends outside of our musical performances. Fast-forward to now, and Leah and I have been through some shit together! I’ve discovered that she is kind, patient, and always positive. That’s why I’m not surprised that her latest single, “Joshua Tree,” is a perfect reflection of her impressive resilience.
It opens to a lonesome, desolate slide on a guitar. Then a steadier, lighthearted acoustic guitar and piano part begin. Leah starts, “I fell asleep in something I buried, woke with the taste of the dirt in my mouth.” Like I mentioned in my post about Latasha Lee, I absolutely love when artists can write vulnerable and visceral lyrics like this. Never would I come up with a line like that, but immediately I know what this song is about. Something has ended and it hasn’t ended well. This doesn’t feel like a good place to be in.
When the pre-chorus comes in, the song is injected with some of that resilience I mentioned earlier. “If there’s a way I’ll find it.” And later, in the chorus, she says, “My roots are shallow, but they’re all that I need.” There is definitely heartbreak and loss in this song, but there’s also a discovering of one’s own strength, of one’s own will to push through surrounding circumstances.
Toward the end of “Joshua Tree,” a triumphant chorus of male and female voices comes marching in. Everything swells upward and upward until at last it comes back down to just the acoustic guitar and the piano, steady and lighthearted as they were at the beginning. Leah sings, “The twist in my shoulders is me moving forward, a-coming to be, I am the Joshua Tree.”
One thing that impresses me so much about “Joshua Tree” and the new EP “Strangers Again” is that Leah has been at the helm of everything. She searched for the perfect producer. She ran a successful Kickstarter campaign to help fund it. She writes all her songs. She puts her own band together for live shows. I hear a lot of flak about how people shouldn’t call themselves solo artists because they wouldn’t be the same without their band, but Leah seriously does it all. We’ve talked in depth about our music and the challenges we face on a daily basis. It takes so much determination and commitment to do what she does, and to have done it for so long. I’m excited for people to hear this song and her EP because I feel like she always puts her heart and soul into everything.
If you like “Joshua Tree,” I recommend, “Ride the Butterfly” and “Secret Room” by Leah Nobel.