(120) John Ephland, Downbeat -- 11/1/04

In the tradition of all great forward-leaning guitar trios, The Nels Cline Singers take their music both inside and out.

It all begins rather sublimely with guitarist Nels Cline's "Blues Too," an easygoing affair with a simple arrangement and nice swing beat. Things get started when "Fly Fly" hits with Cline's pedal effects and distortion, a frantic arrhythmic beat and a stop-on-a-dime arrangement that allows all three members to show off their deep-listening skills. Cartoonish in nature, aggressive in attitude, "Fly Fly" is jazz-meets-noise-rock, and a real indication of what The Nels Cline Singers are all about.

"The Ballad of Devin Hoff" is a feature for bassist Devin Hoff that shows off his deep roots in the jazz tradition. Cline and drummer Scott Amendola hold back in supportive roles, while Hoff states the theme and improvises with his rich, woody tone. "Something About David H." combines both the reflective, almost ambient sound the group is capable of with a dramatic shift toward an outward-bound rock groove. That The Nels Cline Singers can move between the outlandish and the soft-spoken indicates a well-grounded sense of communication between the band members.

John Ephland