Review of Telegraph Taboo by Nick and the Ovorols
Decent contemporary blues is very hard to find these days and as a result I found getting to the end ‘Telegraph Taboo’ by Nick and the Ovorols surprisingly refreshing.
The experience did not start with the same optimism as I found opening track ‘Take The V Train’ to be a rather boring affair and not in any way indicative of the rest of the record. A cacophony of repetitive, drunken guitar chords that seem to stumble over each other and drown out a virtually non-existent beat. It flummoxes me why Nick Peraino chose to open with this one but fortunately the only bad track has now come and gone. The aggressive vocal work stops the song from de-railing entirely but there is plenty more of that to be heard on better songs to come.
In contrast to the opener, second track ‘Chitown Via Greyhound’ draws heavily on Nick’s strengths as a blues guitarist, something that will stay with you for the majority of the record and let me tell you, this guy can really play! The melodies soar over a complimentary foundation laid down by the rest of the band. The production for the majority of the album is raw and gritty with a lot of distortion (just the way it should be for a sound of this ilk) but it’s particularly noticeable on this one.
‘Honey, Please’ is a definite highlight for me, one of the more intense numbers and truly incorporates the band as a whole. Some fun back and forth between multiple guitar layers makes for one of the best instrumental pieces on the whole record. Proper Americana blues at its’ best right here!
‘Hey, Mr. President’ is quite a trippy number but again definitely worth a listen. The heavy distortion is toned down a couple of notches but pulls back up towards the end. Ambient, wailing (yet comparatively clean) guitars drive the song along with very soulful vocal melodies showing the higher range of Nick’s voice.
The album pulls back into softer territory for a couple of songs, towards the end first example is the 7 minute ‘Try Me’ which starts out with just Nick giving a surprisingly low vocal delivery over subtle guitar work before a full blown ballad emerges along with the rest of the band. Production is a lot cleaner for this one, something of a stand out track and the exceptional guitar work is still present plus it showcases the wide range of Nick’s voice.
‘Day To Day’ brings us all the way down to the album’s most subtle state, just Nick and an acoustic guitar for the most part plus some restrained yet effective use of an accordion. A melancholy country-like number, this one kinda reminds me of Bruce Springsteen’s fully acoustic (and hauntingly beautiful) Nebraska album. This is for anybody who likes solid acoustic work and not just blues enthusiasts.
In summary the debut record of Nick And The Ovorols is a more than solid record, the opening track is the only thing I’d flag up as a weak link. ‘Telegraph Taboo’ is not exactly sugarcoated (especially the first half), it is essentially raw blues/rock at heart but should you be looking for a modern introduction to the genre then I would tell you to look no further.
Take the V Train
Chitown Via Greyhound
Heed the Words I Say
Mojo a Go-Go
Hey, Mr. President*
Day to Day*
Half of Two
Soundtrack to Life
*check these out!
Review by Al Westlake