Carolina singer plays country mix
Reviewed September 2009
For over a decade, Bill Noonan fronted the Rank Outsiders, a popular North Carolina roots-rock outfit. On his own since 2003, the alt-country singer/guitarist has released his second solo disc, following up on his 2006 issue "Catawba City" with a new one, "The Man That I Can't Be."
The Man That I Can't Be
By Bill Noonan
Catawba City Records: 2009
To hear sound clips or learn more about this release, Turbula recommends viewing its Amazon.com entry.
A songwriter who composed nine of the 12 songs on the album, Noonan also handles the guitar duties and is a comfortable lead vocalist with just the right touch of country twang. He stays with familiar alt-country themes, like the road, bar rooms, being lonesome, and relationship problems, and the musicianship is very good throughout.
The disc gets off to a rousing start with two country-rock workouts, "Road 99" and "Down Again" the latter especially clicking as a foot-tapping good time. There isn't much rocking after these two, though. Gene Clark's "Tried So Hard" is played soft and breezy, with banjos and acoustic guitars behind the harmonies, and "Bottles on the Bar" is a straight honky-tonk number that also stands out. "Down at the Biddy Hut" breaks a spell of five straight slow and mid-tempo country ballads (including the title cut) with a funk beat, full horn section playing throughout, and wah-wah guitar-sounding like a song from a different disc. Noonan is back in the country for "Southern Song," which is unfortunately a rather pedestrian ballad, and the better, folksy "Rambling Boy Blues," with a simple acoustic accompaniment that makes it a charming closer.
"The Man That I Can't Be" has some slow spots, but as a whole is entertaining.
Review by Frank Kocher, a longtime San Diego resident, musician, music collector and frequent contributor to The San Diego Troubadour.