For several years now, Carey Ott has been making music that’s remained way too far below the radar. Hopefully, Nocona will alleviate that lack of perception, but even if it doesn’t, it’s a real treat regardless for the knowing few. Co-produced by Neilson Hubbard, an assured master of ambiance and atmospherics, and featuring contributions from guitarist Will Kimbrough (among others), it’s the type of album that not only raises his bar, but also suggests that Ott’s efforts are decidedly worthy of wider recognition.
Ostensively a travelogue that centers on the small town of Nocona, Texas, Nocona becomes a seductive series of soundscapes that shift ever so subtly over the course of its ten tracks. While the title track was written with fellow singer/songwriter — and Nocona native — Ryan Culwell, the majority of the album was imagined from an outsider’s perspective, since Ott has never been there. Yet, while he’s a native of Illinois, he somehow claims a spiritual connection, and that’s the circuitous thread that connects these songs and provides them with their ethereal glow. Consequently, it’s not the narrative that becomes important here, but rather the philosophical focus which allows songs such as “Cosmic Joke,” “Speed Of Love” and “We Are a Circle” to cast their distinctive upward gaze. The melodies accentuate these sentiments, all supple and suggestive in ways that encourage listeners to lean in closer. Calming and yet captivating all at the same time, Nocona begs repeated visits.
Suffice it to say, the local chamber of commerce ought to award Ott an honorary citizenship for services to their town. If every tiny hamlet emitted these kind of vibes, they’d likely find themselves small no more.