Keri Noble


I wonder what Keri Noble is like in front of an audience not full of her Facebook friends.
On Monday at her CD release party at the Guthrie Theater, the Minneapolis piano popster was very chatty, confessional and comfortable in her own skin. Good for her. Because that wasn’t the case when she first emerged on Manhattan Records in 2004, being hyped by the record bizzers who’d discovered Norah Jones.
It took Noble a few years and divorces from her husband/producer and two record labels to truly find herself. Oh, she’s still  evolving like the rest of us. But the women (and some men) who nearly filled the Guthrie enjoyed every nuance of Noble's journey in song and conversation.
Her songs are about how she’s unlucky in love but strong enough to overcome her insecurities and the jerks with whom she’s been involved. Her patter – funny, self-deprecating, reassuring, empowering, long-winded – reinforced the lyrics, making everyone feel as if Noble was their Facebook friend communicating in the flesh.  
Supported by her regular four-man band plus two backup singers and three string players, Noble offered several selections from her new, self-released CD, “When It Don’t Come Easy.” The strings were dreamy but too often drummer Matt Novachis was too loud for this room and this music.
Noble was at her best when she was intimate, with just her alluring raspy voice and electric piano, like on the new “Fading,”  or when she cut loose (her voice is bigger than her CDs suggest), like on the gospelly “Born Again,” probably her most dynamic number during the 90-minute concert.
Lacking the kind of catchy hooks that excite radio programmers, Noble inhabits that kind of deeply emotional, faux-sophisticated piano pop world where the likes of Melissa Manchester, Marc Cohn and Sarah McLachlan have lived. That’s not a bad place for Noble, 34, to be right now.
Opening the concert was Rocket Club, a Twin Cities country quintet that opted for the acoustic route. The Nashville-managed group with two friendly, funny and likable lead vocalists came across as a Kenny Loggins clone and Tim McGraw’s husky little brother singing second-rate Rascal Flatts tunes with first-rate three-part harmonies.
Rocket Club, which has been receiving airplay on K102, will go electric for its CD release party for “American Serenade” on Thursday at Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar and Grill in St. Louis Park.

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