Wednesday, May 25, 2011 , Updated 12:00 a.m., May 31, 2011
Album review: Radio Waves and Telephone Wire by Nicholas Altobelli
The folk singer flirts with experimentation for an overall successful album.
DALLAS Nicholas Altobelli’s new album due out May 31, Radio Waves and Telephone Wire, is a proverbial breath of fresh air among overproduced music of the digital age. There are no tricks here, just effortless melodies on an acoustic guitar or piano and uncomplicated lyrics that are beautiful in their simplicity. Rarely does any other instrument make an appearance on the album aside from a violin, harmonica, and acoustic guitar.
For Altobelli's third LP, the Dallas singer/songwriter made his way down to a studio in Austin to collaborate with co-producer Britton Beisenherz – who has worked with many local musicians like Seryn and Doug Burr. Although the album was recorded in a single six-hour session, Beisenherz’s influence can definitely be heard throughout the record; Altobelli has many Burr-esque moments that reveal the true beauty of his folk influenced-music in the ethereal stillness of it all.
Unlike Altobelli’s last effort, The Regulator, this album has more of a concept to it, which at times can be murky since he is a little limited in his lyrical abilities. Altobelli’s rhymes are also predictable. It is almost as if he ran out of words to properly express his thoughts and emotions, but then again the album is beautiful in its minimalism – something that only a few truly talented singer/songwriters can demonstrate properly. Sometimes he just gets right down to the heart of it all and cuts to the core with a simple line like “The days of longing, long for days” from the record’s seventh track “Can You Feel the Wind?”
Introducing Radio Waves and Telephone Wire
This LP is also a double-sided album, with an instrumental intro titled “Whispers in the Attic” that consists of just the sound of feedback on an amp while a few notes are played repeatedly on the piano. The track grows louder by the second and leaves as quickly as it came. The second half of Radio Waves and Telephone Wire starts off with “When the UFO Landed,” another instrumental that features a few chords on the piano and some underlying alien sounds. Each instrumental exhibits Altobelli’s brief flirtation with experimentation on the traditional folk influence of the record.
Although the album can be a little slow and sometimes boring, Altobelli shows that sometimes noise is just noise: Silence can speak more than a distorted guitar, the roaring beat of a drum, crashing cymbals, or auto-tuned vocals could. Altobelli demonstrates that music doesn’t have to be all bells and whistles to catch the attention of the right listener; sometimes just a man and his guitar will do just fine.