As a self-described "singer/songwriter/guitarist/teacher/activist," JT Nolan takes a more-is-more approach to life, and his music follows suit. No wonder the new CD by the Lovely & Talented can seem a bit unwieldy at times. More often than not, however, Nolan is able to keep his ambitions in balance.
The Talented team features a wide variety of helpers, including DeVotchKa violinist/accordionist Tom Hagerman and onetime Zuba saxophonist Ben Senterfit — and that's fortunate, since Nolan's vision is so eclectic. He's at his best on "Maria," a windswept Western air supplemented by robust trumpeting likely contributed by Filthy Children brass man Steve Illich. And if "Mean Talk" is too much of a Beck rip to stand on its own (despite lyrics by way of Woody Guthrie), "The Thing That Wouldn't Leave" will make most listeners wish it had stuck around even longer.
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There are enough intriguing moments scattered throughout the album to make searching for them feel worthwhile.