Landon Pigg is one rock star who earned my esteem before I had ever heard him sing or seen him perform onstage. It’s an odd name – the type of name that gets you beat up and relieved of your lunch money as a kid in the school yard. Or, on a completely unrelated downside, it gets you mistaken for a character in a children’s fable.
Point being: It is decidedly not the type of name to light up a marquee. Yet as displayed by a solid if less than spectacular album simply titled LP, Nashville native Pigg has risen above his unfortunate name and is forging the way ahead to proving himself at the most a rock star and at the least a pop heartthrob in the making.
Released in 2006 by RCA, LP is laced with mellow sounds and sad, melancholy lyrics sung in a high, but to his credit, not whiny voice. On his website he notes a spectrum of musical influences from the soulful David Mead and Rufus Wainwright, to Radiohead, Zeppelin, and even the Beatles.
Last week Pigg performed for an intimate crowd at Skylight studios in New York at an event for Rolling Stone and Johnny Walker. The rainbow of labels had been enjoyed by attendees for an hour when a long haired Pigg took the stage looking somewhat like the middle Hanson brother, complete with boyish good looks and a striped cardigan.
Pigg took off crooning into the microphone with emotion, his head occasionally turning completely sideways with his eyes closed and a pained expression on his face. The emotion was palpable in the timbre of his voice and the crowd stood three deep, bobbing their heads in unison for the first song. Yet at the end of the night, the crowd dissipated, acknowledging that “yes, it was a good show,” but not something worth staying out past midnight on a weekday.
The reason is that while Pigg’s music is good, a good deal of it sounds very similar. The melodies are safe and somewhat predictable. Lyrics are undoubtedly the driving point of the record and tend to run the spectrum from truly great to downright generic.
One lyric high point is on Last Stop where he gets a little bitter and sings, “I write a million songs about the weather/But when it comes to you/I pick up all the pieces of the chords I didn’t use/Pick them up and glue them back together/I sure hope this will do/Here’s a piece of trash I cleaned and polished just for you.” Yet he returns to the tried and true again and again like on “Keep Looking Up” in which he evokes birds, clouds and stars all in one breath.
This sort of high and low reveals Pigg as a talent that may blossom in time. Heart-on-the-sleeve sappiness pervades but with good deal of attractiveness. The style is more quite suitable for long rainy nights and hours of self pity over the loss of a significant other. In the song “Can’t Let Go,” the lyrics are ripe for Kleenex and Ben and Jerry’s: “And then we saw our paths diverge/And I guess I felt OK about it./Until you got with another man,/And then I couldn’t understand/Why it bothered me so./How we didn’t die we just/Never had a chance to grow.”
Partnered with his good looks, this sort of vulnerability gives Pigg that quality which women fall over swooning for. A girl ran up to him in the middle of a song and hugged his feet. No one could blame her as he played “Sailed On” and let loose the love weary lyrics, “Please don’t trouble yourself/I only want your love.” You sort of can’t help but want to take him home and snuggle.
My final conclusion: LP is somewhat predictable, with that sense of familiarity where you feel like you may have heard it before. Fans of Daniel Powter and Travis will love this album. It’s not groundbreaking, but it’s a good debut and promises a good deal more to come. I’d love for him to give me a call in two or three years.