Yes, Ravello may be referred to as a feel-good, straight-ahead Nashville hard rock act, and that description may serve them well, but it doesn’t do them justice. As proven by the newest record Nostalgia, they are the Nashville balladeers: a band that does the ballad the right way, again and again. And again. They hit the centermost target with the arrow frequently. These are powerful, epic and convincing, but not cheesy ballads. Sometimes we need such a musically-driven story to remember and reflect on our youthful mistakes so that we can accomplish our current goals. Ravello helps us rehash this idea.
The Asperatus EP somewhat foreshadowed Nostalgia by emphasizing Ravello’s continued strength in writing intrepid rock ballads and lethally hard rock songs. Nostalgia feels and sounds like the logical next musical chapter. On this record, each ballad has its own style, sound and character. Sure, there are hints of other Nashville rock staples such as Kings of Leon, Moon Taxi and Autovaughn. But what sets Ravello apart (besides their little Italian village band name) is their ability to find different dynamics and sounds within the parameters of rock ‘n’ roll ballads and still follow through with quality songs. Also, Ravello has a talent for harnessing the essential elements of classic rock and making them their own.
Nostalgia kicks off with the opening track “Fire,” which breaks into a 7/4 time signature slow groove and reflects on the idea of love as a tease, an up-and-down cycle of expectations and uncertainty . Then the song hits the turn-around, gaining momentum and energy along the way, and smoothly transitions to the chorus which seems to sound off from the top of a mountain until the sounds falls into the depths of a canyon and dissipates. “Lose Control” captures the listener with an epic arrangement of spacey and delayed guitar melodies
“Daddy’s Plastic” delivers a specific psychedelic tonality infused with Motley Crue-ish heavy metal riffing. It conjures images of irresponsible college teens abusing their parents’ credit cards at the local bar or driving their vehicles in an act of rebellion. Lead singer Justin Derosa proclaims “It’s time to break free from daddy’s Mastercard.” Other highlights include “Rx” features echo-slamming feedback followed by heavily distorted guitar licks and thereafter alternating between ear-tingling melodies and throttling rock rhythms. “Siren” begins with a Phoenix-like intro. When the chorus kicks in, it’s so abrupt that it is almost as if a siren goes off and startles the listener as a quick transition, or lack thereof.
If ballads and classic rock sensibilities are your cup of tea, this is your record. Honestly, I couldn’t find a weak song on this record. This is certainly an ambitious first full-length release, but one that is action and emotion packed. Nostalgia does deserve that attention, whether you’re referring to the album or your own memories.