Just hearing the name of this quirky, eclectic retro-hipster band makes you smile and think of the iconic roles their namesake John Travolta has played – from Tony and Danny to Vinnie and Vincent. And it’s hardly surprising considering JT’s eternal association with “Saturday Night Fever” that the lead single which immediately draws us in is the jangly synthy disco romp “Snowball” Likewise the buoyant Chic-y dance meets new wave, tongue in cheek “I Was Dancing in a Lesbian Bar.”
Led by multi-talented veteran singer/songwriter Salim Nourallah, the group certainly creates its share of whimsical fun beyond that, winking at everyone and everything from Randy Newman on the playful “Mail Ya To Australia” (tinkling piano and vocals courtesy of Paul Slavens) to punchy, 60’s surf guitar (the lighthearted piano pounder “I Can’t Say No”) and even The Doors on the new wavey relationship going nowhere song “Making Out,” whose organ swirls recall the hypnotic riffs of Ray Manzarek.
Yet once you start listening to their attitude laden, delightfully all over the multi-decades stylistic map, you realize there’s a lot of depth beyond the spirited name and clever, freewheeling ditties.“Blame My Baby” is a soulful, straightforward heart aching piano ballad with an understated vocal and reflection on the source of the pain. The Steely Dan old school keyboard shimmer behind the equally wistful “Crying Shame” adds soul and gravitas behind the jingle jangle. The Travoltas mix cheerful and mournful vibes a few times on the same song, most notably “Did I Lose You At I Love You?” which taps into the universality of broken hearts over a balmy island groove.
This being a debut album, the Travoltas seem to be throwing all kinds of vibes out there to see what sticks – yet, led by Nourallah’s alternately heartfelt and witty vocals, the great news is that everything does and you’ll want to listen over and over!