When Adam Torres enlisted the help of some Southeast Engine bandmates to record Nostra Nova in 2006, it quickly became a cult classic to those lucky enough to hear it (who were mostly confined to the band’s homebase of Ohio). “Cult classic” might not even be a strong enough term. Nostra Nova is the kind of record that, if you hear it at the right age or time in your life, you’re liable to clutch to your breast like a sacred text. And with good reason: the 20-year-old (at the time) Torres holds nothing back here, from vocals that can flutter into a vulnerable falsetto to arrangements that range from straightforward rock to dramatic and artful epics. It’s a little bit all over the place, but also the product of a personal vision that often makes you forget its DIY roots, as orchestration ranging from harp to glockenspiel create some truly beautiful chamber folk arrangments. Fans of artists like Sufjan Stevens or Neutral Milk Hotel would do well to give Nostra Nova a listen now that its getting a reissue courtesy of Misra Records. With any luck, Torres won’t remain Ohio’s little secret.
// Notes from the Road
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