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CD review: Bill Noonan

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The Deal: Former leader of the Rank Outsiders releases sophomore solo effort, The Man That I Can't Be, on Catawba City Records on July 21, 2009.

The Good: The album opens up with the rockabilly-style, Elvis-sounding tune, "Road 99" before going more honky tonk with "Down Again." He ventures into country folk territory with "Money Girl" and something a little more bluegrass with "Tried so Hard." His vocals land somewhere between the mellow Tom Petty and a non-mumbling Bob Dylan with a hint of Roy Orbison's twang and Leonard Cohen's growl occasionally thrown in. Noonan gets help from plenty of local music fixtures including David Childers and Beth Chorneau and producer Mark Lynch. You've gotta love that the photos were taken at The Thirsty Beaver and Snug Harbor, too.

The Bad: There's always a fine line between showing your range in songwriting and not able to settle on one identity. Noonan is teetering on that line but his vocals are still tying it together.

The Verdict: The album shows depth in instrumentation, quality in production and quality songwriting. Noonan's one that's been on my radar for a long time and this disc shows why his name keeps popping up – and only in good ways.

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