After a decade of ups and downs, Rustic Overtones have released The New Way Out, a sprawling and ambitious album two years in the making. Maine’s favorite sons have managed to combined rock, funk, psychedelic, jazz and pop to create thirteen tracks incomparable to anything else in their catalog or existing in the current musical landscape.
Rustic Overtones became famous for raucous live shows and a blazing horn section. Songs like “Combustible” off of Viva Nueva and “Iron Boots” from Rooms By The Hour elevated the band to new heights. But on The New Way Out, the band focuses more on songwriting, arrangements and overall vibes than the familiar Gutter screams and sax solos (but did they really have to cut off Zoidis’ uptempo groove in “Everybody Needs…”???). At first, the band’s new direction is a little hard to accept, but after repeated listens, the album proves to be so far beyond three chord punk songs with horn lines. The musicianship and creativity on display is off the charts.
While nine years is a long time to keep an audience in anticipation, there are moments on The New Way Out that are completely worth the wait: the musical journey of “Nuts and Bolts;” Drummer Tony McNaboe and singer Dave Gutter trading vocals on “All Together;” the string and brass arrangements on “The Downside of Looking Up;” the airy synths and vocal perfection on the verses of “I Just Can’t Shake You;” and the space-walk bridge of “The Smallest Spark That Beat the Sun.”
The word ‘mature’ gets thrown around a lot when a band takes a step forward and progresses musically. Rather than strive to meet others agendas, Rustic Overtones have taken the time to make an album that feels more like a natural evolution than a forced effort. The New Way Out is grand and dense and not meant for casual listeners. Buy the CD, take a couple days and just spend some time with it. Appreciate the hours and the sweat and heart that went into the production.
This isn’t the Rustic that you grew up with. This isn’t the Rustic that recorded with David Bowie. This isn’t the band that broke up in 2002. As the opening track says, “This is the New Way Out.”
Key Tracks: New Way Out, Nuts and Bolts, I Just Can’t Shake You, The Same Does Not Apply, Arizona