Holler Country Music
feature

Premiere: Casey Noel - 'Playing God'

By Jof Owen

link icon

Link copied

The inspiration for a song can come from so many different places; often it’ll be the last place you go looking for it. Sometimes the idea can just be sitting there waiting, seemingly invisible to everyone, until one songwriter sees something no one else did.

“You never know how a song will find you”, Casey Noel explains. “But this one came to me through a true crime podcast. It’s from one of the many I listen to that I first heard the story of Giulia Tofana, a 17th century serial poisoner from Italy. She is said to have killed at least 600 men, making her one of the most prolific serial killers that you have never heard of. I thought the story was fascinating and it stuck with me until it came out in a song”.

A modern take on the murder ballad tradition, ‘Playing God’ tackles domestic violence and abuse, weaving in a philosophical cross-questioning of the country revenge trope. “She was tired of hiding the bruises, this had gone on far too long”, she sings. “So she cooked and she cleaned and she made her man a feast / When he wasn’t looking she added a drop to his drink”

Casey Noel’s straight-talking, introspective songwriting is reminiscent of singers like Brandy Clark or Miranda Lambert, as she turns the tropes of retribution and vengeance over in her hands to make sense of their psychological implications over a shuffling delta groove. “Now she’s free but by what means? / She took an apple from the tree she was never meant to eat”, Noel sings, wondering, “Does pretending to be God put you in the Devil's seat?”

“For women who couldn’t divorce abusive husbands, Tofana concocted and sold a deadly poison”, Noel says, expanding on the idea behind the song. “The song delves into the complex psyche of a woman pushed to her limits, but opens up the idea of what it might cost, psychologically and spiritually, to take such action”.

Listen to ‘Playing God’ premiering exclusively on Holler below.

Casey Noel is a Costa Rican American who released her debut EP in 2020, but it was last year’s ‘Page 52’ that really put her on the map. After she was unexpectedly added to Spotify's Emerging Americana playlist, she received an invitation to play FloydFest as part of their On The Rise series, and she found herself in Nashville for the first time playing a special event for AmericanaFest. She began 2022 with an invitation to 30A Songwriters Festival, Byrds Creek Music Festival and Bristol Rhythm and Roots.

‘Playing God’ will be released on 10th March. Presave the songs and follow Casey Noel here.