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Sometimes it helps to bide one's time, as Noel Gallagher has surely done in the two years since he walked away from Oasis, effectively shuttering the biggest British band of the last 30 years. While brother Liam rushed out and grabbed the first ray of new rising sun with Beady Eye, offering up a fair-to-decent version of Oasis-sounding songs, Noel took the long-view approach, realizing that a great album has to be nurtured, coddled and brought up right.
Of course, he has some experience in this area; indeed, a couple of the numbers on his solo debut, Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds - the album's name is the same as his band - have been percolating for a decade now, with demos and soundcheck recordings leaking famously on the internet.
Some might say (oh!) that Noel has always held all of the cards: He was the principle songwriter for Oasis, penning the lion's share of the catalogue and all of the hits. Not only that, but his singing voice - a rich, throaty delivery, alternating between a tenor and a baritone - was the more expressive, and widely underused, of the two Gallagher brothers.
All right, so let's cut to the chase: The 10 songs on Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds rank as the best set of material the singer-songwriter and guitarist has assembled since (What's The Story) Morning Glory? As it is with the best of composers, the emotional buttons - desperate, angry, joyful, melancholy and everything else - are right there in plain sight, but the light and dark between the hues are swimming about, too, and they're up for grabs.
Working in both London and Los Angeles between 2010 and 2011, with frequent collaborator Dave Sardy serving as co-producer, Gallagher utilized the talents of now bandmates Jeremy Stacey (drums), Lenny Castro (percussion) and Mike Rowe (keyboards). It's a close-knit bunch, and the manner in which they jump through so many moments of epiphany, sometimes in the space of one song, is astonishing.
Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds - an intensifier of feelings, and a strong contender for Record Of The Year - will be released on 17 October (8 November in the US). On the following pages, we'll take a look at this wondrous album track-by-track.