Sound — 8
Alternating emotions surround the recent release of Nazareth's twenty-third studio album, "Rock 'N' Roll Telephone." Under normal circumstances, the announcement of a new Nazareth album would normally be accompanied by the feelings of excitement of anticipation. However, in this case there was also the addition of disappointment once it became known that this would be the final studio album to feature original lead vocalist Dan McCafferty, who would be leaving the Nazareth lineup due to health problems.
Determined to continue on with the blessing of McCafferty, the members of Nazareth have already appointed another singer to serve in the place of the founding frontman. There has never been a Nazareth album which lacked the presence of Dan McCafferty throughout the band's entire career, and how the band will continue to create music without him will only be revealed through time. What matters right now is that Nazareth deliver a performance on "Rock 'N' Roll Telephone" which is worthy of both their longevity and legacy, which retains plenty of the band's original sound while also introducing plenty of modern hard rock elements to keep the outcome sounding familiar yet also a progression, as opposed to another continuation.
Songs such as "Boom Bang Bang" showcases the well preserved range of McCafferty towering above energetic guitar work and a striking pace. This doesn't sound like your seasoned rock band who previously became fused with the genre thanks to such cuts as "Hair of the Dog" and "Love Bites," however the outcome is solid all-the-same. "One Set of Bones" has a striking late 1990s Deep Purple vibe, and is further bolstered by solid blues rock guitar complemented with fuzz box effects. "God of the Mountain" is another standout track which keeps one foot in classic Nazareth territory and another in active rock. However, not everything on "Rock 'N' Roll Telephone" lives up to it's expectations: one of the strangest numbers on the record is "Long Long Time," which alongside a hip-hop beat and sampled vocals sits bizarrely out of place amongst the rest of the tracks here. Thankfully, we soon return to a familiar pace on the acoustic rocker "Winter Sunlight," which implements some subtle Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young elements while ultimately falling right in line with what one would expect from a newly recorded outtake from "Razamanaz." Aside from a handful of questionable moments, "Rock 'N' Roll Telephone" is a bonafide Nazareth album whose dual purpose is to serve as the triumphant swan song of Dan McCafferty.
Lyrics — 7
The range and tone of Dan McCafferty's voice remains incredibly well preserved, and he isn't afraid to show it off throughout Nazareth's latest offering. Immediately from the word "go" on "Boom Bang Bang," McCafferty stays comfortably in his higher octaves; such territory wasn't frequently visited on Nazareth's most well known material, and familiar listeners might feel out of place on these new recordings, however dedicated fans won't have any difficulty appreciating his consistently eccentric performance.
Overall Impression — 8
Nazareth simply do what they do best on their twenty-third studio album, "Rock 'N' Roll Telephone." The album is studded with highlights destined to become favorites amongst longtime listeners, all of which show the entire lineup performing at full velocity. Although it is currently being named as the final outing to feature definitive singer Dan McCafferty, we will always hold out hope that he will appear on another album in the future. If this proves to be his final venture, then it certainly won't be contested that he went out with a bang.