Guitarist/vocalist John Nicol spent many years traveling the width and length of Australia with one of the country's legendary musical groups, the Mason Troubadours, who got their start playing in a boxing gym (playing between rounds, perhaps?). On this, his first album for La Brava, he hasn't forgotten that the main purpose of a variety show performer is to entertain the people with a mix of music that keeps their attention by staying away from a stylistic rut. That's what this album is about: a ton of music sung and played in a variety of ways with a good proportion between fast, slow, and medium tempi. "While We're Young" is done at a lilting pace with a sax solo by Bob Bertles. Nicol's from-the-islands "Carib" is done entirely with light rhythmic wordless vocalizing. But Nicol mainly sings the songs that giant troubadours like Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett used to hold their audiences in the palms of their hands. And Nicol delivers these familiar melodies with the hip freshness and joy of a Bobby Darin, as on a bouncing "The Summer Wind" and a waltzing "Dream Dancing." The latter saves room for Bob McIver's semi-tailgate trombone and more mellow sax of Bob Bertles. One of the more attractive tracks on the CD is the coming together of Nicol's poignant delivery with Dave Colton's acoustic guitar on "I'll Be Around." Making the assortment of music even more entertaining, "It Happened in Monterey" has clever wordless vocalizing with Nicol doing the Slam Stewart thing, but instead he sings into a guitar rather than a bass. Nothing groundbreaking on this album -- just a good singer with an attractive voice backed by equally good musicians doing themselves well with a play list of nice tunes. Recommended.
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AllMusic Review by Dave Nathan