Nervous But Excited sound neither nervous nor excited on Once More… With Feeling, but they had to have been excited upon finishing this album. Kate Peterson and Sarah Cleaver, with voices that hold hands in the dark, called upon a small group of friends to flesh out their modern folk sound and the result is captivating. With what at first sounds like traces of the 60s folk movement, they move through the eleven originals with ease and slowly leave the traces in the dust and leave you wanting more… with feeling.
The songs reflect a variety of tones and moods, but they overwhelm with their softer love ballads. Unfinished Song uses a beautiful finger-picked base with single lonely plucks on mandolin to set the mood as voice laments "some days I hear you say things you've never said like how it was all worth it in the end/and most days you are an unfinished song/you come line by line as my days move along", a musical deep sigh if ever there was one. The mandolin strums chords over distant accordion and banjo and upright bass on Slow and Steady while the upfront, mildly brassy voice is made softer by other, round and mellow. Sunspot is moody as well and though Blessing is of the same tone, it stands a bit above thanks to the super tremolo guitar which weaves itself throughout.
These ladies can rock as well. Wishlist is upbeat and uses what sounds like bowed bass and mild choppy violin or viola to set the pace and even throws in some Eleanor Rigby sounding strings for good measure. A bit softer but still upbeat, "Lansing" is a head nodder. A light choogling rhythm at the beginning of Mighty Ocean picks up steam and then slows and fades as does the musical dreamscape.
Peterson and Cleaver save the instrumental Living Room, Early AM to maybe make a point: they can play as well as they can sing. Indeed, their instrumental prowess is the bedrock of every song, especially their work on guitar and mandolin, but it takes center stage here and is a great way to end the album, bowed bass and acoustic guitar riding into the sunset.
A pat on the back should be accorded Nicholas Koby here. In addition to co-producing with Peterson and Cleaver, he adds real depth with his first-rate effort on the upright bass.
Bottom line is, this is one pretty fine album, but Nervous But Excited are just good enough to make you wonder what they can really do. Well, if you're ever in Michigan, ask around. With music this good on CD, odds are that they have offers for live gigs on a regular basis. They are more than likely even better on stage.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Website design by David N. Pyles