Two Years Ago (Justice)
Reviewed by Doug Freeman, Fri., Nov. 27, 2009
NeloTwo Years Ago (Justice)
"It was two years ago that I sang my first note," opens the title track of Nelo's Two Years Ago EP, Reid Umstattd's most earnest croon delivered against the backdrop of piano and acoustic guitar. In those two years since the local quintet returned from incubation in Athens, Ga., and released its eponymous debut LP, Nelo has honed its sound into a more confident, coherent blend. Yet while principle songwriter Matt Ragland has better accommodated Umstattd's strengths, and the acoustic orientation of these five tunes plays well to the Alpha Rev contingent of the Antone's crowd, TYA still mires in trite 1990s pop-rock that lacks distinctive edge. The strings of "Waiting for It" and sax shading of "Break Through" integrate without purpose, clipping radio-made bounce ("Story of Our Lives") and overwrought emotion ("Love Solution"). Something unique may still happen.