Where Duke Robillard takes to the Lonnie Mack and swing side of the 50s, Bill Noonan stepped a bit more into the 60s and took a shine to Elvis, Doug Sahm, Sir Douglas, and maybe a touch of Roy Buchanan. This range of musical milieu is also where Elvis Costello, Graham Parker, Greg Kihn, Dixon House, and a number of others found their touchstones, producing a rather prodigious amount of music...to shifting acceptance, but certainly enough to keep everything going. Not my cuppa, I hasten to add, nor my shot of whiskey, but Noonan does it right and fits straight in with his compeers.
Of particular note is the arch and Nick Cave-ish Lonesome Blues, a shuddery lament drifting right through your viscera, then Ramblin' Boy Blues turns into a marvelous honky-tonkin' number completely on the other side of the map. A strong country element is dominant through most of The Man That I Can't Be, but there's also a generous dollop of Memphis and fundamental old school rock often in an engaging late-folk-rock groove, as in Biddy Hut and Southern Song, the latter carrying a Levon Helm tang.
Bill Noonan fronted the Rank Outsiders group in the mid-90s in an alt-country framework following on the influences of Gram Parsons, Rodney Crowell, and others, but his marriage and musical collaboration ended in divorce, so he re-thought the game plan and emerged more concentrated on his own talents, this being his deuce release as a solo. It's going to be warmly received by fans of the bands I've cited, but, to my ears, he's not 100% on his mark yet.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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