HGR CD Review: Nowhere Slow

NOWHERE SLOW – LISTEN/LOVE (Windmill Agency Records) Since their beginnings in 1997, Nowhere Slow has evolved their sound and emerged into one of northeastern Pennsylvania’s most prominent groups. Their fourth recording, Listen/Love, finds Nowhere Slow taking their pop-rock foundation and stretching it into different terrains. Singer, guitarist and chief songwriter Rick Gillette shows a knack for catchy song hooks and relatable lyrics; and guitarist/keyboardist John Canjar, bassist Will Clauss and drummer Matt Kester bring those songs to life with bright arrangements that incorporate elements of rock, funk and jazz. Listen/Love’s 11 tracks run the gamut from punchy rockers to funky grooves to gentle acoustic ballads. The lion’s share of songs are upbeat, optimistic and hopeful about life and relationships; the uptempo “This Is Our Night” sets the tone for the album as a hopeful statement of purpose about going for the gusto, and songs like “Made You Look” and “Hard to Believe” follow suit with cheery melodies riding atop driving rhythms. Sassier and stormier, “Count on Me” lays down the funk as it turns up the vinegar. The hard-rocking “Go Away” says goodbye and good riddance, while “Same Old Love Song” is lighter and more conciliatory in tone. Nowhere Slow offers a reverent patriotic-themed ode in “Hero,” and Gillette croons a tender song of devotion on “Blue Eyed Boy.” The performances are crisp, smooth and enthusiastic, and Nowhere Slow throws enough variation into each number to keep the album fresh. These players serve the melodies, supporting the arrangements with timely fills and nuances that help drive each song hook home. Produced by Eric Ritter and mastered at Abbey Road Studios, Listen/Love sounds clean, sharp and polished. Nowhere Slow’s blend of melody, hooks and chops makes Listen/Live an invigorating, pleasant listen.(The CD can be obtained through the group’s website, www.nowhereslow.com.)