Carol Noonan Band / Carol Noonan

The Only Witness

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One of the most appealing folk-oriented (that is, folk mixed with rock, pop and/or country) artists to emerge in the mid-1990s, Carol Noonan had another gem in her third solo album, The Only Witness. Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez, Sandy Denny and Judy Collins continued to influence the expressive New Englander, but she never sounds like a clone of any of them. Whether favoring a pastoral setting on the traditional "Queen Jane" and her own "Under My Eyes" or going for a grittier, more electric approach on "Break Her Heart" and "Not Coming Home," Noonan once again proves that she's a fine singer-songwriter in her own right. Illustrating how poignant Noonan can be, "Not Coming Home" describes a woman who has lost her paramour and is holding on to his various possessions as a way of remembering him. The song could have easily become maudlin or self-pitying, but a healthy amount of rock-edged toughness prevents that from happening.

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