Knots and Crosses

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Formed in Peaks Island, Maine in 1986, Knots and Crosses consisted of singer Carol Noonan, singer/guitarist (and Noonan's husband) Alan Williams, and guitarist Rick Harris. The trio recorded two albums,…
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Formed in Peaks Island, Maine in 1986, Knots and Crosses consisted of singer Carol Noonan, singer/guitarist (and Noonan's husband) Alan Williams, and guitarist Rick Harris. The trio recorded two albums, Creatures of Habit and Curve of the Earth, both of which were self-produced and self-released, and which had a significant impact on the New England folk-rock scene in the early 1990s. An abortive deal with Island Records was the beginning of the end for the band, and since Williams and Noonan had divorced during the making of the second album, the center could no longer hold and the group broke up. In 1999, the Signature Sounds label released a retrospective compilation entitled There Was a Time, which included selections from both albums; in addition, the band reunited long enough to record two new songs, "Apparitions" and "Waiting for You". Noonan has since pursued a solo career with consistent critical (if not commercial) success, recording several albums for the Rounder label.

To call Knots and Crosses Northern New England's answer to Richard and Linda Thompson might not be entirely fair, but it wouldn't be entirely inappropriate either. The band acknowledged the stylistic debt readily, and even made it explicit with a slightly-too-faithful remake of the Thompsons' classic death-of-a-relationship song "Walking on a Wire". Noonan and Williams had a vocal blend that was similar to that of the Thompsons, and Noonan's songs (as well as those of Rick Harris) tended towards the same sort of thrillingly catchy gloominess and despair. And Harris, while an impressive guitarist in his own right, was very clearly and deeply influenced by Richard Thompson's unique Cletic-flavored, music-hall-inspired guitar style. But Knots & Crosses did bring its own unique flavor to the folk-rock concept, and it remains a shame that they were unable to make a go of it beyond the confines of the sometimes rather insular New England scene.