Saturday 29 March 2014


CD Review

More Than A Little Guitar

If you fancy a good dose of Americana/country then you could do worse than have a listen to More Than A Little Guitar, the pun will become obvious when you see the album and find out more about the ex-Californian Daniel Nestlerode.

Daniel Nestlerode
One of his own creations Old Calapina opens the album and unfortunately it's not one of those tracks which grabs you instantly and is a questionable track to have as your opener.
This gives way to a much more musically interesting track the traditional Going to the West although there is a strange trait in it which just doesn't work vocally.
He either changes key or tries to force a flat note into the proceedings, either way it grates on the ear and sort of fractures what is a pretty good tune but it is here you really get a feel for Nestlerode's skill on the strings.
Long Black Veil is a slower ballad which is one of those country narratives about being in trouble with the law and sounds somewhat laboured in its execution. Nestlerode, who now lives in Cambridge, has a workman's voice it's not particularly strong or overly tuneful but it gets the job done. His strength definitely lies in his mandolin playing. There are three contenders which should have been in the running for the opening track one of which is Nestlerode's own creation, Rolling With The Circus, it's much more upbeat and has that rolling, head-nodding rhythm. Without doubt the strongest track on the album is another of the contenders St Anne's Reel/Whiskey Before Breakfast and is really Nestlerode doing what he obviously does best.
The tunes are built entirely of his strings and have that traditional sea shanty sound to them. It's the sort of set which played live could really get a crowd going and whip them up into a clapping frenzy by increasing the tempo as it goes along.
Virginia Claire is another traditional narrative based in folklore and myth and again is built with Nestlerode using his strings to weave the strands which make up the tune. There is a nice guitar solo thrown in too for good measure.
More Than A Little Guitar
The third contender for the opening track is the traditional Bury Me Beneath The Willow and is one of the few on the album where Nestlerode's voice is in sync and works quite well with the tune. It's kept simple and doesn't push his range outside of a comfort zone and with the constant strum which is used as a backbeat puts it as one of the strongest tracks on the album.
It may have missed a generation or two now, so bringing back Red River Valley, which has been covered many times and featured in numerous films, might not be a bad idea as to many it will sound fresh, the only problem is Nestlerode hasn't really put his own stamp on it.
It needs more oomph, a little more gusto or colour and perhaps it's one of those which he will play around with during live gigs, it is ripe for it.
A Winter's Night is a fairly run-of-the-mill ballad and the chorus seems a little lazy as it overdoes the fire word but again behind the alright vocals you get the sound of Nestlerode's skill on the mandolin.
There is a better ballad that follows, Two Soldiers, which has a good narrative to it and the right tempo which gives the gravitas the song's subject deserves.
Nestlerode takes the album out with another of his own compositions, All The Things You Are, and is a soft ballad and it seems on this track more than any of the others Nestlerode is pushing his singing range. He does have a distinctive vocal sound which could well be still in development but it isn't particularly strong or tuneful. Nestlerode's strength is definitely in his playing. This album seems a little rough around the edges but it does have an organic honesty about it which is to be commended.

More Than A Little Guitar is out now and available for download through itunes.

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