Something Else! sneak peek: P.J. Pacifico, "Waiting" (2011)

With a piano signature that mimics rain water trickling from a downspout, and an easy-going, almost confidential delivery that sounds like a softer Toad the Wet Sprocket (or a tougher Gin Blossoms?), P.J. Pacifico’s “Waiting” couldn’t feel more confectionary. At first, anyway.

Though his subject matter seems firmly ensconced in the golden crushes of summer, he sings like autumn, a fragile brown leaf tumbling end over end. Sure, there’s a youthful longing, but this tale of hoped-for passion doesn’t feel like the sweaty urgency of August, so much as the warm scratch of an old blanket on that first cool October night — something you pull close knowing it will take a while to warm up.

With “Waiting,” and really the bulk of his forthcoming CD Outlet (due June 7 on Viper Records), I’m struck by Pacifico’s willingness to be still. It reminds me of early Paul Simon, and his songs share the same gentle portent. There is, on the surface, a limitless innocence — “friendship first is the real prize,” Pacifico says of this young relationship — but underneath that, you hear real doubt. There remain the possibilities of darker outcomes.

“What is this before us?” Pacifico sings, later. “I guess I felt it since I first melted into you: You and I should begin. I’ll get around to telling you. I’m just waiting for the right time.”

Why wait? Well, that’s where the trepidation comes in. Unspoken, as T Bone Stone’s keyboard begins running past again in rivulets, is just why. But I think I have an idea. Though the details are different for everyone, I’m sure you do, too. It makes for a terrific piece of songwriting, the things not said.

[Click here for more information on purchasing P.J. Pacifico's Outlet from Viper Records.]

In finding the tender disquiet between desire and fear, in accepting that feeling as its own place — rather than a signpost to be rushed past — Pacifico imbues “Waiting” with a welcome tension.

It’s not as sweet as it sounds at first. But then, nothing is, right?

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Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has also explored music for publications like USA Today, Gannett News Service, All About Jazz and Popdose for nearly 30 years. Honored as newspaper columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section that was named Top 10 in the nation by the AP in 2006. Contact him at nderiso@somethingelsereviews.com.