The Overtones

The Overtones

(absolute)

Their reputation founded on their lively stage performances, invariably with a colourful instrumental band behind them, The Overtones’ sad loss this year of one of their lineup has left them a quartet. It may be a cliché that the departed Timmy would beyond any doubt have wanted the outfit to continue – whatever his own problems and crises – but it surely is the truth. So the four head back to the studio to make a new record that continues their harmonic good-times sound..the core of the act’s existence. May the exercise strengthen them all as individuals and a unit. So what material are the group tackling now? Time to press play…

Kicking off with Say A Little Prayer indicates that the act are staying in safe territory, as will a glance at the other track titles. From their perspective, why mess with what works ? So this isn’t the place to find anything offbeat or experimental, this is solid party-time music, entirely ready for stage performance. It’s a statement in itself.

It is refreshing to male vocals – well-recorded and with a rich backdrop with pacy drumming and horn slivers. The phrasing exactly mirrors Aretha’s which lets it down a tad imho.

You To Me Are Everything is a winner of a song and the fresh-air outing delivered here is an easy listen, again no departure from the phrasing of the original hit. Save The Last Dance For Me is of course thoroughly familiar. Here, opening softly and building up as the lead vocal switches. Neat. Next up is Stand Up a group original set to a walloping beat and a Motown tinge plus a crisp arrangement. Whilst conventional in construction, this inclusion proves insistently catchy and addictive, a great interlude. I would have flanged the strings, but ace piano sound.

Teardrops is the Womack favourite set to a morse-code beat and full chorale. The bass on this is excellent and surely this will be a stage favourite as it drives along, quasi-Philly strings and all. A highlight of this programme. My Girl is given a stealthy intro but the song is over-familiar and subsequently lacks impact here. Things pick up a bit with the admittedly popular Love Really Hurts Without You, a good lead vocal and the whole ensemble sharing the vital swing of the number. Then By My Side finds the boys co-composing a song for Timmy Matley, lost boy from Cork.

Desolate piano and a steady vocal set the scene. The group steps up with a full-blooded chorale never swamped by the players and the sepia strings just so. This should have been the closing cut.

Rockin’ Robin is that damn annoying Jackson tune, albeit with deeper singing. I’ll pass on that and go to Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? the gorgeous Goffin-King Composition. Here the hymnal singing seems to lose the passion of the lyric. BUT there is surely a female vocal here? Who, I can’t identify. Goodbye is presented in a dreamy ambience and it must be said, works really well with the best lead vocal on the set.

Finally, Love Is In The Air which is a song that cannot help but conjure up acheesy disco in an Alpine hotel. Instead of bashing into this, a soft intro is employed and the beat is a touch lame, better that they had chosen a song by say Ashford & Simpson to ride out on…

A tuneful set by accomplished singers, skilfully arranged. I venture that they HAVE to wrench themselves away from duplicating the phrasing of the originals. That never did Billy Paul any harm and heaven knows these chaps are adept enough to be braver.

Pete Sargeant

 

 



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The Overtones new self-titled album is out now on absolute.

For tour dates and more information visit their official website here: http://bit.ly/2BOj8x7

Our original chat with The Overtones members can be located here: http://bit.ly/1ZTOoQx