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Carlo Nuccio - Loose Strings (Monkey Hill)

Waxed - Record Review from Issue #18 Nov-Dec 1998

By Jim Markel, No Depression

 

Carlo Nuccio has been kicking around New Orleans for over a decade, serving as the drummer in residence for the roots-rock scene in the Crescent City. Some might recall him from the Continental Drifters’ first recordings; he contributed much to that band’s earthy soul with such songs as “Mississippi” and “Mezzanine”. His vocals are also distinctive, falling somewhere between Tom Waits and Levon Helm on a bender.

Nuccio left the Drifters a few years back and has stayed busy by doing session work for such diverse artists as Tori Amos and Buckwheat Zydeco. Finally, he has found the time to put together his first solo record, on which he wrote or co-wrote all the songs while providing most of the instrumental backing.

Loose Strings does not disappoint those listeners who heard something special in Nuccio’s tenure with the Drifters. While keeping to that band’s rootsy sound on songs such as “My Home” and “Church Of The Dwindling Spirit”, Nuccio peppers the record with pop elements, from White Album-era John Lennon (”Sake Of The Family” and “Jesus Freak”) through Byrdsy jangle (”Losing My Direction”) to early Elvis Costello (”Don’t Call Me A Flirt” and “The Analyst”). However, at the heart all of these pop smarts lies a shadowy side announced in the Waits-like opener, “Zoo”. Drunken nights, twisted people and relationships gone wrong float throughout and are given weight by Nuccio’s world-weary vocals.

Drummers have often been the brunt of musical humor, but Loose Strings proves that drummers and their music aren’t always a laughing matter. Nuccio’s music stands as solidly as the rhythm he provides.

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