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Peter Noel realizes dream with new CD

"In Case We Forget" is Peter G. Noel's debut album. His nephew, Bradley Forward, created the cover art.
"In Case We Forget" is Peter G. Noel's debut album. His nephew, Bradley Forward, created the cover art.

MOUNT PEARL, NL — Music was a big part of Peter G. Noel's life growing up in Freshwater, Conception Bay. Everyone in the family could play an instrument or sing, and Peter turned out no different from the rest.

But despite the fact he's been performing music live in bands since he was a teen and writing songs from a young age, he's never gotten around to making an album of his own.

All that changed this fall with the release of "In Case We Forget," an 11-song CD he recorded in St. John's.

"It's one of those things that though music has always been a passion, but it's also been part-time," he told The Compass during a recent interview.

Peter, who is a member of the Noel family responsible for several businesses in Carbonear, bills the album as a collection of songs delving into remembrance, love, heartbreak and hope.

His interest in writing songs about war comes from a personal place, as dad Roy Noel fought in the Second World War, joining the 166th Newfoundland Field Artillery Regiment in North Africa. He ultimately spent three years overseas. The final track, "Our Veteran," was inspired by his dad's experiences.

While Peter has lived outside the Carbonear area for many years, he remains involved with Royal Canadian Legion Branch 23 in Carbonear. His own experiences with the Legion inspired two others songs on the album — "Sons of the Fathers" (a piece of historical fiction that name checks battlegrounds where Newfoundlanders fought) and "For Matthew Brazil" (about a well known First World War soldier from Spaniard's Bay).

"From the early days, I had those songs and I used to think about someday doing an album, and very early on, the whole concept of "In Case We Forget" being the album was in my brain," said Peter. "I think most of the songs fit into sort of a theme of remembrance. Not necessarily about (just) remembering veterans, but remembering other things."

Song for his mother

He quickly offers up the album's opening track, "A Song for My Mother," as an example. A pivotal role model in shaping his musical interests through her own considerable talents on keyboard instruments and the guitar, Florence ("Floss") Noel held on to her abilities even as Alzheimer's disease ravaged her mind.

"Right up to the very end, she could still play and sing," Peter said of his mom, who died in 2009, 11 years after Roy Noel passed.

Late last year, Noel found himself unemployed following provincial government budget cuts. With newfound spare time on his hands, he decided to go into a St. John's studio with Rick Hollett and Kevin Pinhorn, the two men behind Record Time Productions. With a slew of great musicians to work with, Peter's songs were fleshed out with electric and acoustic instrumentation.

Stylistically, the music covers a lot of ground, with pop and rock influences shining through on many songs. There are also hints of roots-rock, traditional folk and country scattered throughout the album, with Peter's strong singing voice taking its place in every arrangement.

"We started, I think, in February," he said. "We spent a number of months in the studio putting everything together, and here it is."

He's pleased with the final result.

"The songs are certainly what I had conjured up in my mind, and you don't really know until you actually start putting them together with live musicians … Some of them are better than I thought they could be from just collaborating with all the musicians involved and taking their ideas."

To help promote the newly released CD, Peter will perform a hometown gig alongside guitarist Paul Monahan (who co-produced the album with Peter and Hollett) and his brother Kerry Noel. That show happens Thursday, Oct. 5 at the Royal Canadian Legion in Carbonear. Admission is free, though donations for the Legion's Poppy Fund will be accepted. The Carbonear Legion is also selling copies of his CD.

"There was never any question as to where I was going to have (the launch)," he said with a laugh. "They figured that out for me. The Carbonear branch has been extremely supportive."

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