Chris Picco – The Beach (2013)

Posted by on October 31, 2013as

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The Beach is the third solo album from acclaimed St. John’s, Newfoundland songwriter Chris Picco, an honest lyricist with considerable charm who also fronts Newfoundland’s The Long Distance Runners. Having formed LDR, a red-blooded rock and roll outfit rallying around a passion for The Stones and The Kinks, between 2007′s Ferris Wheel and now, Picco made a conscious decision to embrace barer arrangements for The Beach‘s sound in order to allow the substantial heart of the tunes to ring true. That’s not to say ten songs of The Beach leave the ears wanting for anything; it’s a finely crafted sound (credit Picco’s close friend and co-producer/engineer Krisjan Leslie, who was also responsible for producing The Long Distance Runners’ debut EP and LP) that deftly handles a versatile mix with grace and frequently reaches for greatness.
Picco is an adroit folk songwriter with a knack for personal lyrics that quickly endear themselves to the listener. The Beach never finds him pandering for attention, but he also isn’t afraid of being taken as sentimental. He wears no pretense, but he also won’t hesitate to engage satire and tear through a tongue-in-cheek narrative that finds him personifying a stock villain (the rollicking “Real Estate Man”).
The Beach is a quietly engrossing collection of subtle beauties from a man newly embracing marriage and fatherhood while finding his own worthwhile acreage in a quickly spinning world. The most accurate portrait I can paint from weeks of enjoyment with The Beach is to say the songs gently soar with much of the melody, heart and genre shifts that might come from shuffling Wilco’s finest deep album cuts from the pre-Summerteeth/post-A Ghost Is Born catalog. Although Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and Summerteeth would be my #1 and #2 favorite Wilco albums when tortured to choose, this is intended to be anything but a knock on Picco. For a decade and a half, Wilco has been one of my favorite band (if not my absolute favorite), and nearly every album could be a contender for best-loved while fresh in my ears. The point is Picco’s songs have an appeal that doesn’t appear to fade with time, and they sit as comfortably with me as many songs from one of my all-time favorite bands do. It doesn’t hurt that his vocal performance on the The Beach‘s exquisite string of ballads (“You’re So Real,” “The Beach,” “Worth Believing,” “The Good Within,” “In Your Light”) has an uncanny resemblance to the masculine frailty of Jeff Tweedy’s weathered gems without feeling the least bit forced.

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