With the opening lines "Rain cuts like glass / The wind moves souls" from "Wooden Floors," the first track from Nicholas Altobelli's rather agreeable latest full-length album, The Regulator, the Dallas troubadour introduces the listener to a dark, and often dense, brand of poetry. Recorded in Dallas with Salim Nourallah, Altobelli's imagery-filled lyrics, while a tad cumbersome at times, burrow a depth beyond that of a typical young folkie who simply hopes the world will give peace a chance.
The pace of the record's nine songs leans towards the sleepy, more deliberate side that is occupied by many an artist who hopes to be truly listened to, as opposed to simply being heard. Adding to the late-night confessional vibe, Altobelli's vocals are hushed and contemplative. The weariness in his voice matches the lyrical mood in many of the songs. The Regulator should come packaged with a label instructing buyers to only open well after darkness has fallen.
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Another sign of Altobelli, the artist, maturing is the fleshed-out arrangements that enrobe many of the songs. Excellent use of electric guitar, violin, pedal steel and the mandolin help elevate the tunes to a higher plane than most acoustic campfire numbers ever reach. His previous recordings were raw—perhaps a bit too raw—but the added instrumentation and Altobelli's continued development as a writer proves The Regulator quite the deft release.