Whether you are seeking some musical companionship on a rainy gray afternoon or for a moody candle-lit reverie, the nine songs on “Live It Down,” David Picco’s sixth album (released back on February 26th), themselves whimsical, nostalgic, elegiac, and thoughtfully produced throughout, are indeed good company, at any hour, to keep. From the scratchy well-worn paper CD cover art, reminiscent of those once loved but somehow misplaced, to the final fading chords, every song unveils their charms in due time. Give yourself that time. Let a master songwriter and craftsman fill your head with simple, but touching tales of love, loss, and dreams.
“Up In The Air,” the opening track, is well chosen and underscores themes that resurface – time out of place, drifting, nothing quite where or what is expected. Addressing the separation, when paths diverge, Picco turns that airless knot of unknowing into a tribute of sorts. “I been on the losing end, for so long I can’t pretend, I could never do you wrong.” As plaintive as the lyrics may be, a renewal appears, as if an uncertain limbo contains its own destination. The instrumentation; drums, bass, pedal steel, and electric guitar, gentle and precise, surround the straightforward acoustic chords, giving the story a sturdy foundation on which to carry emotion and insight.
“Waitin’ For The Summertime” and “If You Wanna Change My Mind,” both released as YouTube singles, share similarities in tone and sentiment, but are quite different in intent. With its steady kick drumbeat, awash with synth orchestration, the former possesses a quirky haziness to it, filled with yearning that anticipates sweet outcomes, “hoping that the sky don’t fall, settle in, we’ll send for all.” The latter is almost pop-rock in flow, with an electric guitar motif in deep reverb and “the dreams I dream away.” “I guess you could say that Live It Down is about coming to terms with the fact that life never turns out as planned,” Picco says. “I would describe it as contemplative, but musically I was going after something more dream-like and ethereal.”
Picco was well known on the Toronto roots-rock scene during the early 2000’s. His move back to hometown St. John’s in 2015 has seen his creative output develop mightily. Picco has noted in past interviews that he worried his move back to Newfoundland might curtail his ability to perform and continue his recording career. Contrary to his concerns, he has built a broader following, especially through his last two albums, “Start Again” and “Out of the Past.”
Two tracks especially stand out, if only for their lack of stylistic production. “In The Fall” stands aside from the other pieces for its intimate storytelling and minimalist arrangement and accompaniment. There’s no escaping its narrative authenticity. Picco’s vocal carries the tune. His recounting of a childhood memory is all the more for his telling, direct and simple, the spaces left to imagination. It is such a beautiful piece.
“Goin’ On Down” is one of those songs that will long be treasured, if Picco is able once again perform before an audience. It’s not hard to see friends and fans swaying to its laid-back, uplifting groove, with singers singing and the band swirling all around him, electric guitar on rich major to minor riff ringing over and over in our ears.
David Picco has put together a set of songs that fits the mood of the day, caught where we find ourselves dreaming of brighter days. It takes an artist to make clean broad strokes without cluttering up the canvass with overworked details. “Live It Down” is a refreshing, stirring mix of homespun and folk-roots, sounding uniquely like itself. While effortlessly honoring the past, it points confidently down the road ahead. “Yeah, I’m going on down to where I came from / Yeah, I’m going on down, to see what’s there / Yeah, I’m going on down, to look for treasure, to see who’s there.”
Learn more about David Picco here: www.davidpicco.com