Sam Blasucci’s been a West Coast lynchpin these past few years, anchoring Mapache, and guesting on records from Pacific Range and the reverential George Is Lord project. He extends his reach this year, wandering into solo territory. The works on Blasucci’s debut diverge from a bit of the past, finding him in thrall with a gifted piano, following his instincts and impulses in new directions. The record swings, slightly unevenly, but earnestly all the same, between late night bar light ravers that dip into the ‘70s well of inspiration and covers that spin the wheel between Dido, The Cranberries, and Jimmy Fontana’s ballad “Il Mondo,” in original Italian. The idea behind the record was to strip away pretense and follow the muse. In that regard, Blasucci delivers a relaxed, earnest record that feels like he’s trying less to please expectations than to please himself.
The record captures excellent highs. When Blasucci glides under the glazed Par Cans for an AOR vamp on “Every Night On The Farm,” the album highlight that finds him digging into the same slippery well as contemporaries Tristides have this year. Cotton-clad saxes peck at “Sha La La” with a lounged jazz that also pops its head into the heart-on-sleeve highlight “Turn Yourself Around.” Though, the latter has has more of a last call crooner vibe about it that’s halfway between his new velveteen sheen and the beach sweater saunter of Mapache. While the covers are sincere, they feel a bit more apt as a bonus and I prefer Blasucci’s originals, especially the songs that push far afield of the languorous touch of Mapache. The record is ripe with treasures, but glitters especially bright when Blasucci lets lets the rhythm seep into the song, thrumming to his own brand of silvered soul.
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