• Album Review: Paleface One Big Party

    By J. Brown

    Life’s winding roads can take us down many paths, but when you’re committed to navigating the world on your own terms, it follows that you’ll cover enough ground for a wealth of experiences that are ripe for musical picking. This is particularly true for the long and varied career of Paleface, who has released a dozen records, toured all over the country, and inspired and collaborated with a boatload of talented artists. Recorded at Thunderdome Studios, One Big Party, produced by Paul ‘Ena’  Kostabi and Paleface, is his second full-length release under Ramseur Records, which houses notable acts like the Avett Brothers (bonus note: Paleface has collaborated and performed on three albums by the Avett Bros).

    The songs on One Big Party feel masterfully in-tune with what it means to not only be down on your luck but also to break free and somehow see the light at the end of the tunnel. The album itself is an invitation to get lost in its strong melodies that compel you to stomp your feet and clap your hands. Refreshingly brazen, uncluttered, and simply raw, these are heart-driven songs that will lift your spirits.

    Monica “Mo” Samalot’s tender vocals add a wonderful touch to many of the album’s tracks and she sings the title track “One Big Party,” which is far more somber and cautionary in nature than the other songs. Paleface was inspired to write the song after encountering a woman at a Laundromat who was going through a rough time; she had a cast on one arm after a beating from her crack-addicted boyfriend and was drinking liquor in the middle of the afternoon as she lamented her predicament. Paleface had his own battle with alcohol in the past but came out the other side a better person and the bittersweet song comments on the inevitable trouble that lies in seeking “a party every night.”

    Sarah Hepola’s recent article in Salon on fighting alcoholism adds a perceptive take on our inherent capacity for change if we can accept failure is a part of the process—all of which speaks to a level of optimism that infuses the music of Paleface, as well as the extent to which we are responsible for our own happiness, however painstaking the process may be. There are traces of this sentiment in Paleface’s latest release, and on that note, Hepola beautifully writes: “But change is not a bolt of lightning that arrives with a zap. It is a bridge built brick by brick, every day, with sweat and humility and slips. It is hard work, and slow work, but it can be thrilling to watch it take shape.”

    In addition, the opening track “You Will Get What You Want” is catchy as hell and characterizes the carefree attitude the album cultivates. Funnily enough, this song reminds me of being a kid, as my dad would taunt me and my brothers by singing at the top of his lungs a chorus along the lines of “You don’t always get what you want” (his own version of the Rolling Stones song and it was sung in a way to maximize the frustration of the listener). He often sung his little tune during very long road trips when us three kids wanted to pull over for food; sadly, my brothers and I would have had a worthy song to counter my Dad’s antics if Paleface’s track “You Will Get What You Want” existed in the 90s. If only.

    If you’re looking for a high-energy Americana band, Paleface is as good as it gets.

    Paleface is currently touring the states in the East so check out their website to see them live if they’re playing at a nearby venue.

    Check out this short documentary on the making of One Big Party and the band’s creative process:

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