The thing I have admired most about singer-songwriter P.J. Pacifico’s earlier albums is what I perceive as the emotional honesty of his music. Whether he is really sincere, I have no way of knowing. All I know is that he has me believing, and that, in fact, is what art is all about. The true artist gets the audience to believe in his truthfulness. Too often singers fake sincerity and they don’t get away with it. They come across as poseurs. Not Pacifico. If Pacifico is faking the emotional connections in his music, he’s mighty convincing.
Now comes a new an album: a five-song EP called Overlooking the Obvious. It is a collection of songs, he announces, that is taking him in something of new direction. He’s working with a new studio and a new producer. He’s found himself some new collaborators, both to write and sing with. Of the five songs, one is written with Stephen Kellogg and one with Kit Karlson, both of Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers. Two were written with Garrison Starr. Karlson not only produced the album, but handled the keys and brought in Chip Johnson on bass and guitars and Tim Walsh on drums.
So what is this new direction? Here’s Pacifico’s explanation: “The new sound is just more current, really. I had a bit of a dated sound on my last records and Kit is giving it a today vibe.” While I don’t know that I would agree that his last records had a dated sound (good music is after all good music, it doesn’t get dated), there is no question that the sound of his new album is bigger. There seems to be more going on.
Nonetheless, there are some things that don’t seem to have changed. The intense emotional honesty is still apparent. The compelling melodies that were the hallmark of his music are there. The album opens with the two Starr collaborations with Starr singing harmony. “Bend it Til it Breaks” and “Just Like a Lover” are vintage Pacifico—beautiful melodies that capture the imagination.
The lyrically captivating “Walls,” filled with introspective sensitivity, is the one piece on the album written solely by Pacifico. “This is My Heart,” with its insistent heartbeat in a kind of onomatopoeic metaphor may be a little too cute, but “Let Go or Be Dragged” makes for a satisfying end as it builds rhythmically.
In the end, those who liked what Pacifico was doing before won’t be disappointed with this new sound. And if it manages to get him a wider audience, as it certainly may, he deserves it.