Photo: Kristina Pedersen

Cedric Noel probes interpersonal trust on the powerful “Allies”

Montreal-based songwriter Cedric Noel is approaching the release of his new album Hang Time in November, and this week has shared a new single and video called “Allies”. He gives us some background, saying:

“Like many of the songs on the album, I wrote this one when I was pondering both the genuineness and strength of the allyship in my life, and how it intertwines with trust. Repeating the words ‘are you on my side’ felt necessary…almost like a constant reminder.”

We’ve heard plenty about ‘allyship’ and ‘being an ally’ in the last year or so, but Cedric Noel’s song is a timely and moving reminder that actions speak louder than words – and simply saying you’re an ally can be a hollow statement. “Allies” is formed around a plaintively strummed acoustic guitar, which seems to rise in parallel with Noel’s growing insecurity about the people around him; as someone who was born in Niger before being adopted by Canadian and Mozambican/Belgian parents, he has a lot to draw on – and it’s audible. His voice is rich and probing, and as he implements crunchy electric guitar, he continues to question “are you on my side?” His question penetrates, gets under your skin and makes you really ask yourself what you have done in this battle we’re all facing – especially as a carefully deployed clip of Malcolm X slides into the fray. Intriguingly, “Allies” goes silent before a final 30 seconds of rambunctious percussion and shouting, which leaves plenty up to the listener to decipher.

Watch the video for “Allies” below, or find it on streaming platforms.

Cedric Noel’s new album Hang Time comes out on November 12 through Joyful Noise and Forward Music Group (pre-order/save). You can find him on Bandcamp, Facebook and Instagram.