Don't let us critics fool you. While it is true that the perks of this gig are sometimes seemingly sparse, the rewards that do come our way are often immeasurable, dare I say "priceless", even to quote a horribly overworked commercial slogan. Of course, our friends and acquaintances who are casual music fans (I've only met a very small number of critics in this category; most of us are absolutely nuts about recorded sound, which is why we're in this play) don't often "get it" when our eyes widen and drool starts pooling onto the floor from our juicy lips when we receive a disc that sends us to the moon. So yes, while it is true that a large portion of the free stuff we get to write up is, by and large, worthy of ground pound or a barbecue's flames, there is always that leftover fraction of truly excellent music that should be heard by more people than just the local indie pop fans who are already familiar with a certain artist's or band's work.
So it is with Rebecca Pearcy. My first introduction to her work was a year or so ago on the Internal/External EP Insideout. Pearcy lent her voice to a couple of tracks on that disc, and those two songs proved to be the best things on there. It led me to check out her solo work, which I enjoyed as well. Since then, she's also appeared on Nate Ashley's latest disc, who is yet another fantastic Northwest performer (Pearcy hails from Olympia, Washington). And now -- for lack of a better term since this album came out almost a year ago -- here is her second release, Constellation, another pretty work of art that finds the singer/songwriter continuing along her musical path.
But where to place her sound? It's kind of folksy, but it doesn't get dragged down by the usual pretentiousness that folk pop can often embrace. There's a twang to it at times, but it's certainly not alt-country. And then there are the purely pop parts of Pearcy's songs. At times like these, when eclecticism is key, it's probably best to not label at all and let the music speak for itself. After all, the best work in any genre often defies categorization, instead blazing an original trail of its own. And that seems to be the best way to put Pearcy's sound.
She's mainly an acoustic performer, with the title track opening the album with just her and her guitar scratching away. "When they asked me if I had a habit of being attracted to dysfunctional men / I said, 'I don't think so.' / Well, there were a couple, but that's not a pattern / But then again I was attracted to you, which makes three", sings Pearcy, opening up a fresh can of dry wit and observational humor set against the sweet gentleness of her voice and melancholy chords. "Natural Disaster", on the other hand, features a bouncing piano with Pearcy singing over the top and offering similar sharp-tongued sentiments on love and relationships.
The best track here is easily "One by One", with pedal steel guitar featured and Pearcy offering up such details as "When you get sick of that big city baby / You know just where you can find me / I'll be sitting at home, in the kitchen by the window / With a blackberry pie in my lap / For you and I to eat with our nervous fingers / Finally in the same room eye to eye". She has a way with her words in her singing, setting a tone of longing that is hard to resist. An A-plus performer with excellent songs that stand at the fore.
Constellation may defy general categorization, but it does have a warm, inviting sound that seems to find an ear quite easily. And while Rebecca Pearcy also continues to offer a fine selection of handbags and other accessories in addition to her music, it's undoubtedly her songs that keep me coming back for more. If you haven't heard this talent yourself, give this one a listen and become a fan, too.