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Joe Rathbone

I Can Hear The Windows Of Your Heart Breaking

At first, Joe Rathbone comes off as a Tom Petty clone. But then, about 30 seconds into the first song on his new disc, I Can Hear the Windows of Your Heart Breaking, you realize that Petty doesn't have the ability to deftly shift into a lilting falsetto ... and his lyrics aren't nearly as pithy and poetic.

The Petty comparison is something Rathbone must be used to, judging from the voluminous press accolades he has received, all pointing out the lead Heartbreakers' influence. Remember: Springsteen couldn't escape Dylan at first, and look where that got him.

Like the aforementioned legends, Rathbone's a singer/songwriter at heart. He recently relocated to Atlanta from New Jersey, and his latest disc sports a full-on rock band and radio-ready production values that set him apart from the rest of the local crop. He seems to have taken a clue from early critics who loved his songs but always wanted to hear them with a band.

Lyrically, he has more in common with Elvis Costello, a fact best illustrated in the song "Everything's About to be Beautiful." It's a catchy bit of ear candy, and you will have no idea what he's singing about until you actually sit down to read the lyrics. Even then, you're still kinda scratching your head, but like any worthwhile song with a pop sensibility, all you wanna do is listen to it again.

Joe Rathbone plays a Wednesday night residency at Smith's Olde Bar, 9-11 p.m., throughout December.