Over/Under leader Nick Africano is the sort of immature romantic who can't venture a crush beyond his imagination. A trio of bottled-up mash notes, arrayed 1-4-6 on this modest but formidable six-song disc, gives the impression that he's a bohemian scuffler, a tough and tender cinematic antihero. He can't believe "Sandy Ann" is leaving town and that he's not going to stop her. He waxes poetic with remembrance and yearning for "Angelina" but lets her know in the end that he's "doing just fine." On the closer, "Possibilities," he comes clean: "I tie my memories in knots so they'll never be undone/Because memory's so short and forgetting is so long/I bought the most beautiful paper to write you letters in vain/Send them invisibly just to read them again."
Maybe I'm suddenly a sucker for bathos, but what should be dreadful can be both breezy and poignant the way Africano and the other four Over/Unders put it across. Guitarist Dan Walz-Chonjnacki spins flax into golden tones on the pro-spontaneity talking blues "Uppers for Supper," then goes for that Ernie Isley bumblebee sound on "Machine Gun Green," a quasi-reggae number that could be about a street person turned violent from being off his meds (or a cherubic National Guard recruit waylaid into Baghdad). But Over/Under's charm is perhaps best summed up by "Little Joe," which cribs lines from the Faulkner novel Light in August but churns like a little locomotive through the West Bank blues-rock roots of Willie Murphy, Paul Metsa, and Koerner, Ray & Glover.
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