Monday, September 12, 2011

Waters Crashes In With For The One

"Port O'Brien is no more," opens the "about section" of the band's Facebook page. Sad news for fans following the acoustically-inclined indie folk band founded by Van Pierszalowski and Cambria Goodwin. But good news too.

Pierszalowski's new indie project, Waters, is rock solid. The first single released from the upcoming album Out In The Light is making some waves. For The One is a sharply arranged indie rocker with raw and impassioned lyrics. It's not all that unlike his life at the moment.

"The record is about waking up. It is about getting out of a situation that seems endless, and realizing you're not too old to make dramatic and sudden changes in your life," said Pierszalowski. "It is about starting over." 

Pierszalowski did start over. After the shutdown of Port O'Brien, he headed to Olso and put together a new band of of Norwegian musicians. They practiced together every day for two months before heading to Dallas to record with alternative rock underground legend John Congleton (The Paper Chase) to create a stark and intimate sound with a large and enveloping rhythm section.

Pierszalowski and Congleton had worked together before on Port O'Brien tracks, not to mention three or four dozen other bands, ranging from Modest Mouse and The Mountain Goats to Okkervil River and Bono. Congleton's influence on any album always aims to break from mediocrity, which perfectly underscores the theme of Pierzalowski's songs.

Pierszalowski moves from downsized to stripped down bigness. 

Although For The One underscores the move toward a bigger sound for Pierzalowski, several of the upcoming tracks retain his attachment to folk rock. Mickey Mantle, for example, is a brilliantly composed, acoustically-driven lament with honest and near-confessional lyrics. Abridge My Love begins in much the same way before it crashes into something fuzzier, bigger, and bolder.

More than that, Out In The Light stretches Pierzalowski's addictive tenor, opening doors that the musician had never been able to budge before within the context of the loose and punchy structures of Port O'Brien. There's no question he has been living his theme, making changes that simultaneously fill him with regret and hope. Sometimes you have to blow up what you have to move forward.

Perhaps the track that captures that feeling best is O Holy Break Of Day, which ebbs and flows back and forth before surrender and freedom. The feelings are etched in the instrumentals too, quietly setting the tone before breaking into bristling loudness with scratchy guitars and crashing drums.

There is one more thing that stands out with this new direction for Pierzalowski. For as long as I can remember, he has always had the utmost concern for the audience, always striving to engage them. The new album accomplishes this on every level. You could see it at the Troubadour in August, with the audience straining to hear the music before they became awash in it.

For The One By Waters Crashes In At 9.6 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.

Although Waters carries forward his affinity for the sea (even Port O'Brien was named after a bay in Alaska featuring a now-abandoned cannery on Kodiak Island), Pierzalowski seems to be playing in the thin line where the water touches the sky. Sometimes it's as if he is drowning. Other times it's like he is being pulled ashore, winded but safe. All of it, together, amounts to his best album ever.

Although the full album will be out later this month, you can find the single For The One on iTunes. As a bonus, Pierzalowski recently dropped O Holy Break Of Day on Sound Cloud. We'll add links to the full LP as soon it is out. It's being released by Pierzalowski's longtime label, TBD Records.

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