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Good Service

Please
(Self-Released)
Release Date: July 26, 2019

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Noah Fardon (Good Service) was born in Nashville in 1994 and raised in an old stone house west of town. When not in school – a very traditional, all-male, former military academy where football will always reign supreme – he sought creative and conversational freedom and inspiration each day on the front porch of a nearby coffee shop that was a main haunt for prophetically deep thinkers, brilliantly singular personalities, and artists of all mediums and ages. Buoyed by their passion and the atmosphere of encouragement, he took his limited musical chops out of the shower, where they’d long been waging a losing battle against Hamilton Leithauser, picked up a guitar (and a guitar teacher) and started a band. Things went well for a few years, and then faded away as we all found new places to call home.

Fardon then moved to midcoast Maine in 2012 and, after a few years translating Ancient Greek, decamped to nearby Portland, into a repurposed laundry facility owned by a mustachioed, Twizzler-hoarding, self-proclaimed pirate. There, he set up shop in a 9’ X 7’ wooden box (sawdust on the paint-stained concrete; it had most recently been a carpenter’s workspace) that occupied one corner of a large white-walled room (now the New System Exhibitions gallery space). Fardon spent the next two years writing and recording in musical and spatial isolation, aiming to see if, in so doing, he couldn’t shed some habits that had begun to make the whole thing feel stale.

Please is the result of that effort; alternately sweet and unsettling, it is a wonderfully strange and engrossing thirty-one minutes, thematically informed and contextualized by Good’s sudden need to reckon with a rapidly unwinding perspective on mortality in light of his grandmother’s terminal diagnosis and subsequent passing a year and a half later. As the album’s bookends, “And a Foot” and “The End,” are also its most direct confrontations with death, each peeling through varying layers of anxiety, regret and despair to uncover the beauty and lightness hidden deep within the folds: that necessary inspiration to trudge on, to be patient, to choose to accept life. “And a Foot” settles hesitantly though encouragingly on a plan to turn things around: “Twenty-three, obsessed with death, regretful of the only love I’ve left, I smoke as much as fills my chest, but I’m trying to get right again.”

And yet, as the album plays out, Good’s resolve to choose and cherish life is subsumed by an inability to breach the sea of distractions – those much more immediate and prescient than mortality – that all but defines the restless sprawl of each day. Meaningful commiseration becomes tied in with increasingly unhealthy patterns of substance use that demand nonetheless occasionally still feel effective and revelatory (“Summer Muses”/ “MaPaw”); a love lost years before, now distant in time and space, creeps its way into a new start in a new city (“Washington Avenue”), cutting through the din of social life and the current of a budding romance with the sharp edge of vivid memory (“94”). By “The End,” Good, having lost family and friends alike to whatever it is that comes next, has grown more fully aware of the way mortality manifests in even the smallest windows of time, and embraces this unearthed truth reluctantly: there is no linear path to follow, only cycles of birth, death, and rebirth, that we must repeatedly opt into as we discover who we are before we simply are no more (“If now were the end, it wouldn’t get to me much; I feel so spent, though I know we’ve only just begun). But it is not the end. Good Service is a beginning.

What you will hear within first had to pass through the hands of his trusted, capable, and generous friends, Vaughn Hunt (additional recording; synthesizers) and Jamie Joyce (drums), and then through those of Roger Moutenot (additional recording; mixing), who brought a true sense of life and identity to this music — without him this record would simply not be what it is.

There’s so much more: a desperate and defeated return to Nashville; a New Jersey cemetery swelling under the billowing and pulpy heat of a midday in August; the misidentified shallot that brought him closer to Springsteen’s quiet side and the notion of chosen family; two deceptively quiet brushes with death in the sap and sweat of a New Orleans predawn; eight cats, a puppy, three drunk infants, “customer is king,” orange kouign amanns and spelt ciabatta…If you want to know any of it…just ask!


Photos: Henry Austin


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