Nicholas Altobelli
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Nicholas Altobelli

Dallas, Texas, United States | INDIE

Dallas, Texas, United States | INDIE
Band Folk Singer/Songwriter

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It’s always a must to have a good collection of rainy day weather, and this gloomy Friday morning finds a new record to add to that collection. As I drive past foggy pastures and the rolling plains of I-35W, the entrancing sounds of The Regulator, the sophomore record from North Texas’ own Nicholas Altobelli, perks the ears of the ghostly silohettes of grazing cattle as I pass. Recorded with the acclaimed artist/producer Salim Nourallah, Altobelli’s new album is quite the follow-up to his 2008 debut LP, Waiting For The Flowers To Bloom, and has pushed himself over the edge into the range of being a highly established folk singer for this region of our Lone Star State.

There are a few albums that I have come to love based on one simple thing. When I am listening to a song and the notes follow where I feel them going, it will usually become part of my collection just based on that. It is a strange connection when you feel music and music feels you in return. From the very first track of The Regulator, I knew this would be one of those records, as the crunchy, lo-fi sounds of the fiddle danced in perfect stride with my mind’s melody. Altobelli’s lyrics are strong, poetic and intense. There has been a buzz between music critics that the content of Altobelli’s lyrics are not unlike those of the intricate and profound Leonard Cohen. I can totally agree with that. The album’s title track, The Regulator, is a perfect example of his Cohen-esque lyricism and notation.

This album has other influences that can be heard as well. The song 40 Miles also gives a haunting allusion to the dark intensity that can similarly be felt on tracks from Pedro The Lion’s record, Winner’s Never Quit; one of my favorite sad-time albums ever. The album ender and very lo-fi recorded song, Take Me Home, does just that with Altobelli’s voice becoming as soft as a whisper, like when singing a lullaby to a child that is just about to fall asleep. It reminds me of the faint voice of M. Ward from his earlier record, The Transfiguration Of Vincent.

The complexity of lyrics mixed with the simplicity and beauty of the music itself makes this album one of the most sincerely enjoyable records that I’ve heard in a while. There are no tricks and nothing you have to pay too close attention to to understand the songs. It is all plainly laid at your feet, and I commend Nicholas Altobelli on such a great, refreshing and simple folk record. - Pegasus News/Subservient Experiment


Today’s song of the day is from an up and coming singer songwriter out of Texas (yes, it’s true). Altobelli provided an album that is practically full of “Song of the Day” tracks in the Regulator, but today it is only one. The Regulator as an album could almost be Slowcoustic 101: it has hushed acoustics, the right amount of hooks to make the songs melodic, but not catchy and vocals that translate the sombre tone that oozes from this album. This truly is a great album and to only have one song is a tragedy. - Slowcoustic


This album is super mellow and soothing. It’s the kind of music to listen to while you sit in your favorite chair and reflect on the day while drinking a beverage of your choice. - Front Porch Musings


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.

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. - Dallas Observer


Brrr ... is it cold in here? Nicholas Altobelli's new record might have you reaching for a Snuggie.

Nicholas Altobelli's riveting new album, The Regulator, might send some listeners scrambling for the Lexapro.


Its nine songs, musically and lyrically, are best suited to December's frozen depths, not these early days of spring.

But the Dallas singer-songwriter's dreary and monochromatic vignettes burst to life, thanks, in part, to countrified flourishes like Burton Lee's gloriously wounded pedal-steel work and Diana Jo Burleson's ghostly harmony vocals.

"I can't write happy songs because they come out really cheesy," the 25-year-old Altobelli says. "It just seemed that each song is like a short story that takes place in different parts of the world, different times, different seasons."

The Regulator follows Altobelli's acclaimed debut, 2008's Waiting for the Flowers to Bloom, and last year's Dog Years EP. The prevailing seasonal influence for The Regulator was stark, spare winter and a deep chill can be felt on austere tunes like Wooden Floors, which Altobelli likens to a nor'easter, and bleakly beautiful tracks such as Everything Dies.

"I tried to get the arrangements to reflect [winter]; I didn't want too many warm instruments," he says. "The actual song The Regulator had dobro on it, and it was scratched.... I'm glad I took it out because it really made it sound very summer-country-ish, which is what I'm trying to get away from."

The album will be released online Tuesday via CDBaby.com. (It's currently streaming at myspace.com/theregulatoralbum until May 20.) Altobelli, a fixture on local stages, will perform at Doc's Records in Fort Worth as part of Saturday's national Record Store Day event.

The Regulator first began taking shape last summer as a full band, 11-song collection. He eventually scrapped the initial recordings and started over, discovering a more "folk-ish" approach in the process.

"The original idea came from a song called The Regulator -- I wrote it back in July last year, and it was just this epic, long song about some dreams I had," Altobelli says. "Of course, the song was awful, but I liked the idea of The Regulator that regulates everything in the world, makes the world move and keep things in their place."

That element of fantasy threads its way through all nine songs, making The Regulator feels like a judiciously edited anthology of short fiction.

"The last record ... most of those songs were very relevant to me," Altobelli says. "These songs, these characters just popped into my head, and I got to flesh them out and see where it went. Most of these songs aren't personal, except for maybe As the Tide Comes In, but the rest of it is characters I developed on paper and put to music."
He's already preparing songs for his next album, which he plans to record this winter, amid touring locally and elsewhere.

"I like to keep it going [and] never let it stop, because if you let it stop, you might miss something." - DFW.COM


More darkly woven tales to muse and allow to soak into one’s senses, the kind of fare that gnaws at your soul

As a follow-up to his debut recording 'Waiting For The Flowers To Bloom' the singer-songwriter who made the album in Dallas, Texas in the main delivers an album steeped in music to meditate to. For rock‘n’roll it most certainly is not or melodic folk country for that matter but intimate tales. As is the case with ‘Everything Dies’ doused in layer upon layer of steel guitar and fiddle accompanied ‘Northern Lights’ that contains some splendid acoustic guitar plus some of his best vocals soon made it a must hear song in my book, and yours too I bet if I am not sadly mistaken.

Sounding like one of the angst leaning singer-songwriters of the early 1970s it is almost like Tim Hardin, Leonard Cohen and Phil Ochs are present in his voice and music as ‘The Regulator’ and Cohen-ish ‘Northern Lights’ ease across the skyline. It is that good. I am not joking. Admittedly, he does overdo it on one or two occasions as the darkness becomes a little too dense and unrelenting as the final two tracks unravel their sombre pouring of emotion. ‘As The Tide Comes In’ warmed in sensitive fiddle makes way for the darkest of dark ‘Take Me Home’ to close the nine-track record. A dirge-like affair it boasts a foreboding feel near deep as some of the late Vic Chesnutt’s work plus for it has backing of the same monotone feel. Were it not for his harmonica it may have died in its tracks. Talking of players, Altobelli also plays acoustic, electric guitar, mandolin and percussion on the with a little help from Burton Lee (pedal steel), David Clarke (violin) alongside Diana Jo Burleson who lends warm vocal support on ‘Everything Dies’.

7/10 rating
Reviwed by Maurice Hope - Americana UK


“…Nicholas Altobelli is a solid, alt-country/folk songwriter with a penchant for mid-tempo melodies and [overly] poetic lyrics that would make fans of Leonard Cohen proud…” - Dallas Observer (2008)


“His full-length album, Waiting for the Flowers to Bloom, is a meaty collection that’ll surely appeal to fans of Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie and the early material of Altobelli’s personal fave, Ryan Adams.” - Quick/Dallas Morning News (2008)


“…It’s difficult to pick a singular song off this CD. The strength of the CD is how perfectly all the songs fit together; to take one song and isolate it seems to take away from the package. Still, “Dalton The Prophet” is an excellent song, but merely a small taste of how good this CD is…” - Ghost of Blind Lemon blog (2008)


“…A spare collection that sonically evokes the likes of Heartbreaker-era Ryan Adams and less dour Red House Painters.” - dfw.com/Fort Worth Star Telegram (2009)


“…An elegant but raw gem that showcases Altobelli’s tailor-made-for-folk vocal performance.” - Pegasus News/Gobblers Knob (2009)


“… one of the finest traditional folksters in North Texas.” - quickdfw.com (2009)


Discography

Radio Waves + Telephone Wire LP (2010)
The Regulator LP (2010)
Dog Years EP (2009)
Waiting for the Flowers to Bloom LP (2008)
Streetcar Visions EP (2008)

all albums can be found at the official store, iTunes and many digitial distribution services

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Bio

Nicholas Altobelli is a 25 year-old singer/songwriter originally from Southern California. His first LP, Waiting for the Flowers to Bloom, put him on the map as one of the top folk artists in the Dallas/Fort Worth/Denton music scene. In 2009 he was nominated for solo artist of the year by Quick Magazine/Dallas Morning News. Earlier this year he was named by NBC5 DFW as one of the top 15 bands to see at NX35 Music Festival (The Flaming Lips, Sarah Jaffe, Midlake). In April he released his follow LP, The Regulator, with glowing reviews from the local press, some outside of Texas blogs and even some outside of America attention. This fall, Nicholas his heading back into the studio in Austin, Texas to record his new album, Radio Waves + Telephone Wire. The album is expected to be released in 2011.

Nominated for 2009 solo artist of the year by Quick Magazine/Dallas Morning News

Named by NBC5 DFW as one of the top 15 bands to see at 2010 NX35 Music Festival

Opened or shared bill with...
Joe Pug, Bob Schnieder, PALEFACE, Bill Mallonee, Dan Dyer, Susan Gibson and many others