Pacific Gold’s “Sing My Welcome Home” – Review
Whether they’re looking up toward an “eternal dawn” with a hopeful hands-in-the-pocket, unworried whistling, set to the brisk walking tempo of soulful drums and spacious guitar figures or shedding a “beam of heavenly day” with careful vocal harmonies and horns that surprise you — horns that play what can only be described as golden notes, warm and glad, that sound just like the light they’re singing about — the band “Pacific Gold” lives up to their name with every track on their new album “Sing My Welcome Home.”
Pacific Gold’s songwriting channels the best of the 20th century but with a sound firmly planted in 2015 modern indie rock. “Sweet Rivers of Redeeming Love,” for example — and I challenge anyone to listen to this song without tapping their toes or smiling — gives us a perfect hook and a wonderful verse/chorus rhythmic contrast that could’ve given The Turtles or The Beatles a run for their money if Pacific Gold had acquired a time machine and competed against those bands on the charts.
And then come songs like “Gone to the Grave,” with a lo-fi soul music feel in its rhythm section’s production in certain moments — like listening to a Motown album from the ’60s — and a driving series of major/minor chord tradeoffs that lean more minor than major, not unlike Irish hymns of old, famous for their grand melancholy.
(“Dear Refuge Of My Weary Soul” captures a similar old Irish grandeur — and with a beautiful John Lennon-esque piano part.)
Speaking of hymns, that’s exactly what these are — lyrically. From the band’s website: “Formerly known as Wayfarer, we’re a band from Seattle, WA, that plays ‘Repurposed Hymns & Spiritual Songs.’ We begin with lyric sets from old and sometimes forgotten hymns and write entirely new music to them, including melodies, chords, and arrangements.”
And, though the melodies they write for these forgotten hymns are new, some of their new melodies feel haunted by the old ones — as if the old hymnal lyrics exuded their long-forgotten melodies into the hearts of these modern songwriters without them realizing it.
“I Will Know Him,” for example, brings a melody that reminds me of old Appalachian hymnal melodies — the kind that Earl Scruggs’s grandfather probably sang to him. Pacific Gold will write a melody with a taste of that time period, and then place it onto stacked layers of psychedelic textures: echoing snare strikes, long phasing swooshes in large spaces of reverb, and treble-y clean lead guitar punctuations floating in the heavens with the singer’s tenor.
“Spirit of God,” an intricate acoustic matrix — layers of finger-picking beneath Simon and Garfunkel harmonies — presents folk in all its original glory, but with electric guitar entrances that return the band’s modern indie context to the mix.
“The Sands of Time” has a bass guitar figure on the break — just before the chorus — that makes me smile whether I like it or not. And the song uses another fantastic rhythmic contrast between verse and chorus: a driving, modern rock verse that sighs into a contented half-time. And when the driving rhythm returns in the closing minute, the singer cries out, “I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine!” over the stomping, determined upbeat of the drums.
It’s all such a joy to listen to (and listen to again, on “repeat all”).
You can pre-order the new album here, and if you do, you’ll get to download “Dear Refuge Of My Weary Soul” right away.