The Nortons
Good Luck Charm

Issue #64s                                                                                                                July ‘04

Ahh summer…

Nothing better than lying back in the tall grass on a sunny day, puffy white clouds rolling along, a refreshing beverage, a clear mind, the soothing grace and feel-good sounds of the birds and a babbling creek nearby, and a crisp, invigorating summer breeze.

It may not be Midsummer’s Eve just yet, but we have the soundtrack for that day.

Good Luck Charm by The Nortons (a big tip of the hat to Art Carney) has taken all the ingredients of a summer day and jam packed them into this 12 song extravaganza of laid-back acoustic rock. The Nortons arrive on the scene sporting a front man in Calvin DeCutlass, the Alt-John Mayer. Alt, because while Calvin and John could be classified right next to each other in terms of style, musicianship, and writing – this reviewer simply does not get John Mayer, while I do get Calvin DeCutlass, thus earning the Alt- John Mayer tag. Behind Calvin (lead vocals, acoustic guitar) we find two of New Haven, CT’s finest veteran roots rockers in James Velvet (bass, vocal harmonies), and Johnny Java (drumkit, percussion). Together these three create beautiful compositions to warm the soul by.

Good Luck Charm opens with “Tiebreaker” (Heavy acoustic rock) and “Constantly” (sporting an Elvis Costello Get Happy!! Era Attractions rhythm), but really hits its stride and sets the tone and overall appeal with the next three gems. “Hotel” is a down tempo depiction of a hotel stay which conveys haunting undertones that make you wonder if this is a metaphor of death and life eternal. “Mess” is a musical jaunt that carries us through a relationship that’s a mess, but it’s the “affection” (note how the harmonized vocalization of the word is delivered with an amazing amount of affection) that is the glue that keeps this mess together. “Quarter Ante” (from which the CD takes its title) offers a solemn take on a lovers’ rendezvous, which uses a card game as the vehicle to deliver its message of the game that is being played out by these two gambling fools, who may or may not realize that they need each other to even play the game. Using a matter-of-fact rhythm and a hook filled guitar lead to convey it all, The Nortons now have us locked in and they don’t look back.

Highlights include Calvin’s smooth-as-silk vocals on songs such as “License Plate” that’ll stroke your sentimental gene, an organ by special guest (and producer) Vic Steffens on “When You Were A Kid,” that’ll have you swooning with emotion (think Marvin Gaye) over a story of too many days gone by, the Latin infused “Good Boy” (pay attention to the shaker), the vocal harmonies of “Try It Again,” and the detached vocal effect used against a muted acoustic guitar, while crisp drums drive home the closer “Great Reward,” which questions how the little things may influence our views on greater things, for better or for worse, it’s all actually up to us. “So, I’ll listen, I’ll listen, I’ll listen.”

I’ll listen, and I’ll hear the refreshing, soothing grace that The Nortons produce with such feel-good sounds that are as crisp and invigorating as a summer breeze.

Good Luck Charm by The Nortons
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