The Edge of the Middle of Nowhere - Marco Tello Album Review
“The Edge Of The Middle Of Nowhere" - Marco Tello
Review by Joe Baxter
Oklahoma City guitarist Marco Tello has announced the November 18th release of his first solo album, “The Edge Of The Middle Of Nowhere”.
*** In the interest of disclosure, the reviewer has known Tello for several decades, and is a former and current bandmate.
Tello is an excellent guitarist and a master musician. He has been an Oklahoma City musical fixture for a number of years, working in retail music stores, as a sound engineer, and as a guitar instructor. He has been a journeyman lead guitarist in various working bands. Tello was a founding member of the 90’s Alt-Americana band The Suburbillies, along with songwriter and front man Jon Dawson. He is currently one third of the group The Brave Amigos, with his cousin Edgar Cruz and singer Jeff Nokes. He is also working as bass player with other original band members in an experimental resurrection of his very first rock band, The Regular Joes.
Tello’s new release, The Edge Of The Middle Of Nowhere, is an excellent collection of songs. It is a finely-crafted example of the entire scope of Americana music as produced from the perspective of a working musician. The material seamlessly crosses lines between bluegrass, folk, blues, and rock & roll, and the resulting blend is an album that is interesting and quite enjoyable.
Tello’s studio crew includes such worthies as violinist Kyle Dillingham, banjo masters Kane Hollins and Billy Perry, and harmonica player John Williams, among many other fine musicians. The musicianship is stellar throughout, and the tracks are well-assigned. The production itself is unusually fresh and competent for a first solo effort. Tello recorded all of the album’s guitar tracks and several of the bass tracks, and does all of the vocals himself.
The songs on the album were written by Tello and by various songwriter buddies, from Robert Gruber to Jon Dawson, to yours truly. The album features three quirky “Excerpts” at various junctures, that turn out to be very cool little outtakes; bass, rhythm guitar tracks, and vocals. Fans who know Marco Tello know that this is his signature spontaneity manifesting itself in his artistic work.
Tello denies being a prolific songwriter, but his songs on this album belie that claim. This album includes several of his solo-penned offerings, as well as a few co-writes. The title track ‘The Edge Of The Middle Of Nowhere’, is a well-written and intricate instrumental flat picking composition that Tello unveiled at the prestigious Rocky Grass flat-picking contest this past summer. Fellow guitarists and music aficionados will note that Tello’s guitar playing features masterful use of tone and dynamics. While it has become the norm that many acoustic musicians and songwriters lean towards ultra-flashy, crowded, copiously-multiple-note over-playing, Tello’s competence as a guitarist and his salty use of the sound of the instrument itself, plus his use of intervals and a savvy presence are apparent throughout this album.
The plaintive ballad of a homesick confederate soldier in “Letters To Caroline” was co-written with Jon Dawson and is a treasure-among- treasures in any collection of songs.
A favorite of the reviewer, (whose own songs “Hug For You” and “Romeo’s Girl” are featured on the album,) is Tello’s song “Motherhood”, a masterpiece of streaming consciousness and introspection. The song is literature in essence, set to a sadly beautiful melody, and describes the writer’s lifelong experience with his estranged mother in a straight forward, self-realized manner. It is excellent songwriting.
Overall, this album is an outstanding piece of music and is well worth possessing; perfect for inserting into any playlist.
Hopefully, Marco Tello will continue to record and produce many more discs such as this one.
CD Release party for The Edge Of The Middle Of Nowhere is planned for the Bottlecap Barn in Edmond on November 18th.