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Nolan McKelvey and 33

Nolan McKelvey – 2003 (Self-released)

Reviewed by Rick Bell

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CDs by Nolan McKelvey and 33

Those who follow Boston's thriving alt-country/folk music scene may be well aware of Nolan McKelvey's estimable talents as a member of the band The Benders, but the rest of the country ought to recognize the name with the release of his first solo album.

Back in Arizona after his four-year stint in New England, McKelvey's finally establishing himself as a solo artist. With a voice somewhere between Gram Parsons, Chris Hillman and Pinmonkey's Michael Reynolds, McKelvey's 12 tracks range from an atmospheric, brooding O'Kanes' sound to something straight out of the Burrito Brothers' book of early country rock. There's catchy, upbeat cuts like "Cheers to the First Snow," which old fans from his early stomping grounds in Flagstaff, Ariz., will relate to and solid honky tonk numbers like "Step Out."

The album bears a simplicity in both its recording and McKelvey's songs. It's easy to get to know his music, and once it becomes familiar, it's like finding a new friend. (McKelvey, Box 202, Gaysville, VT 05746)