I like good stories...and there are very few bands that pull off telling stories, and there are even fewer bands that put those stories to good music. I always think of Bruce Springsteen or Johnny Cash...excellent story-tellers who could transport you to Jersey, or Folsom, in just a few stanzas. They were masters at drawing the listener in, making the story tangible (regardless of ones experience), and using imagery that was easy to connect with. It is the art of the story that gets lost in much of what is out these days. We are inundated with media...with access to everyone, anywhere, at any time. Facebook...Twitter...television...digital downloads minus lyrics/artwork/packaging...so much so that a good story is usually lost (or ignored) in a haze of techno-convenience. Luckily for us, the music fan, the newest Gasoline Heart record easily wades through all the noise...with great stories, set to great music.
One part AA meeting, one part emotional exorcism, and one part prayer vigil...this record puts the listener squarely in the lap of lead singer Louis Defabrizo. His lyrics lack the usual high-gloss portrait of excess that easily lend themselves to ridicule. In other words, this isn't the adolescent musings of someone who thinks they know what it's like to feel pain, or be drunk, or have the one you love walk out on you. The lyrics are an honest view into the mind (and heart) of someone who has experienced these things first hand. The lyrical themes play well with a band that sits comfortably in the same musical landscape as The Replacements or The Hold Steady. It's rock-n-roll...it's spirited...it's full of energy minus stupid "rock" cliches. Uptempo rockers like "Look Up Baby...", and "Can't Keep A Good Kid Down", sit comfortably in the vein of Tom Petty, without sounding derivative. The gritty vocal delivery by Defabrizo compliments the music throughout the album, having a powerful effect on both the fast and slow songs. "Never Been Worse" (book-ended by "Never Been Better") is a great example of how powerful/honest lyrics, fused to a slow tempo, can draw you in...it's heavy, yet subtle. For the entire record there's an overwhelming sense of urgency with the songs (regardless of tempo or dynamic)...so while they might fit nicely in a bar-room, they still sound energetic and fresh. This record has been in rotation with me since I bought it. Through it all there is love, loss, depression, alcohol, and a thousand other feelings...but regardless of the subject matter there seems to be an underlying current of hope which shows the listener that life isn't solely made up of the garbage we deal with. Gasoline Heart...a rock band that plays, and sings, with real conviction...a rare, and awesome combination.
Buy this record...thank me later.