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

Over a 30-year career, Nick DeRiso has also explored music for USA Today, All About Jazz, Ultimate Classic Rock and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the nation by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Contact him at nderiso@somethingelsereviews.com.