Going by its title alone, Over and Out sounds as if it's aiming to be a definitive farewell to somethingtraditionalism, perhaps, in these avant- and post-everything days of oursbut in actuality this is a polite, mild-mannered affair, the kind you can bring home to your parents and not worry about any crazy outbursts spoiling the otherwise routine dinner conversation.
While pleasant, the disc suffers from this restraint at times. Saxophonist Diego Mascherpa and guitarist Luciano Zadro never quite match pianist and bandleader Alessandro Carabelli's chromatic jauntiness on "The Run," to cite just one instance, giving the crucial opening song the painfully smooth, artistically self-censored quality of elevator jazz. "Voices," despite Zadro's impressive fretwork and his note-for- note sprints alongside Mascherpa, is reminiscent of all those wasted hours we've spent holding the line for the next available operator. "What About" is quaint, soothing, familiarly hummable even, but once again we find ourselves in similarly co-opted musical territory, this time the opening theme music for a television program, specifically a daytime talk show. When it comes to mental associations like this, Max de Aloe's wistful harmonica tends to hinder "What About" as much as it helps.
The title track is a bit different. "Over and Out" doesn't abandon the overt melodic foundation on which most of Carabelli's compositions are built, and it is just as neatly dressed as the three aforementioned songs; nevertheless it feels more revealing, more honest. It's as if during that routine dinner conversation someone made a thoughtless comment about politics or art or religion and Carabelli forgot his resolute civility, if only for a moment. "Pasquera," with its mix of spicy and cool, and "Dear Nick," with its suggestions of cigarettes and sundown, also seem to approach what listeners might define as a personal investment in the songwriting. They have life. They have color. They have character. This is what goes missing in about half of what Over and Out offers. Which, for the optimist, means that the other fifty percent is appealing, occasionally challenging stuff.
This is Carabelli's début album, and as such it fits in quite nicely with the norm. Some of it is substantial and imaginative; some of it is not. His original compositionseleven of the thirteen tracks hereshow real skill and talent, but they don't always escape empty pop-like repetition or avoid easy reliance on musical ideas that have been so long as to have become the equivalent of off-white wallpaper. On his next recording, he ought to make a point of introducing some healthy controversy to rile his hosts.