Jim Noir’s Finish Line. The title had me incredibly confused. “What does it mean?” I asked Jim. “It means it’s over. End of the line”, he responded before a drag of his cigarette. Before me, a scraggly man with shaggy neck length hair with a black shirt and jeans beamed at me with real northern cheek in the smoking area in front of Hoxton Square Bar and Kitchen, the venue that he was played as part of his last tour as ‘Jim Noir’. “All over!?!” I sputtered mid-sip of my pint. “Yeah, I’m working with a great group of lads and we might make something new. I’m not leaving music yet, don’t you worry” he explained.
The live music followed the set piece of the album exactly, and the spirit of the crowd was mostly good-natured. With intimate gigs such as this, heckling is a lot more prominent, but Jim’s retorts usually piped down any errant vocals. Nevertheless, there was a sombre undertone. Most people had an idea that it was coming to an end, which lead to the ravenous demand for an encore. This saw the old populars being played. ‘My Patch’ was received by an ecstatic crowd especially when there was in impromptu clarinet solo that saw Jim enter and frolic around the audience.
Finish Line stood in stark contrast to the previous material that Jim had released. More Abbey Road than Magical Mystery Tour. The dreamy pop had disappeared and was replaced more with straightforward rock. I asked him about his influences. “I usually write whatever comes to me, and it can be from what I’m listening to, The Beatles especially. Most of the time, I’m sat at home watching the TV. I’m quite introverted like that”. The lyrics are still child-like in their whimsy and are for the most part, unattached from meaning. It’s charming, but for the most part, it’s a new sound powering through.
It’s ‘Strange Range’ where The Beatles become reincarnate, a very much sixties tinny distortion peels from the guitars, the drums are a lot more simple and there’s a lot of use of the tambourine.
‘The Broadway Jets’, the album’s main single, is a lot more modern in its sound and is by far the most polished song on the album. There’s still faint reminders of older material here and there, a little quiver from the keyboards flitters in every so often, and there is the layering of vocals exhibited countless times before, which is also demonstrated in the track ‘Out From Within’ later on in the album.
‘Make Me Do It Again’ slows the pace right down, and focuses on the piano chords filled with a mixture of sadness and happiness with a remarkable similarity to Lady Madonna, even including a ‘Waaaaaaaaah’ after the chorus ‘Come through the door, tell me more’. However, it has exhibits more of the wistful sound that is endemic to the songs in this album, especially in the piano intro to ‘Honour and Moodswings’.
The star has to be the final song - the send off that neatly ties the ribbons on top of the whole package. ‘Stone Cold Room’ is the perfect finale to a definitive end, the final hurrah to an amazing artist who signs off the album with a mournful, yet hopeful flourish. Whilst the future of Jim Noir is unknown, the path he has tread before has certainly been treasured by a faithful following. Though it isn’t the reincarnation of dreamy summer songs that delighted my summers, it will definitely draw in a crowd with its unashamedly sixties sound that allows it to form its own cul-de-sac just off of Abbey Road.
To read more about Jim Noir, and take a look back at his other work, click here.