American Gospel - Tall Tales Vol. I
Record Label: Unsigned
Release Date: May 15, 2012
As the first record from American Gospel, Tall Tales Vol. I comes out of the gate in a strong way. Gregg DellaRocca(of The Republic of Wolves) created this project to channel his musical talent into a multi-genre record. You want trumpets and trombones and banjos? You want a jazzy saxophone riff to catch you off guard?
You want lyrics that will embody the very essence of poetry? All present.
It's a simple thing to tell a story. It's a little more difficult to tell a story that never happened. What's more, few artists can seamlessly mesh true stories with manufactured ones and make you believe every single one of them, much less make you become emotionally attached to them. That's exactly what happens with these 12 tracks.
Initially, I was worried that the sharp changes in the music would throw off my focus and enjoyment, much like the way a friend might change subjects too often during conversation. But once you wrap your head around the idea that the sound is going to switch up between tracks, it's easier to just listen to the music.
There is a saying here in Louisiana, "A bon coeur", meaning "to do something whole-heartedly". There's a certain stigma that surrounds the indie music scene, telling people that you have to play a certain sound to be cool or whatever. I don't like that. It's ignorant, and it takes the heart away from the music. But it's comforting to have American Gospel come into the picture and just do what feels right, whatever is enjoyable, whatever the sound.
Like the Live Oak tree that towers over my front yard, Tall Tales stretches it's limbs into every corner of music, but doing so gracefully and balanced, so as to not topple the tremendous weight of its endeavors. There's so much content, between stories of a man seeking revenge for the death of his father, a boy getting courage to be a savior for his people, and several honest real-life experiences, each portrayed with splendid originality from a truly talented artist.
There is something about the horns in Tall Tales that takes me to New Orleans. Hearing them, I can almost smell the sweat and piss in Bourbon Street. The nagging fear of getting mugged or shanked. The constant sirens in the distance. It's an adrenaline rush.
What DellaRocca has done with this album, between creating the artwork, writing all of the lyrics, playing most of the instruments, and handling the mixing, mastering, and production, he has given it a feeling of fluidity. Yes, it may hop genres throughout, but that's just the different limbs making their way outward in separate directions. A feeling of loss and retrospect is still pinned at the hub of it all, with a deep, believable sense of pain permeating nearly every song.
After listening for weeks to an album that has such intimacy, that it makes me feel the loss and regret and heart poured into each song, I can honestly say "Tall Tales Vol. I, a bon coeur."