My biggest complaint about Greg Gescha's self-titled album was the lack of tact in his production, or choice of producer, and that it overshadowed the fact that he's probably one of the best songwriters working out of our humble city. Listening to "Passage," two things become apparent: one, the songs just keep getting better, with some true gems like the near-perfect Marc Bolan-channeling opener "Sailflight" popping up, and two, I may have been wrong about the production thing.
I still stand strong in my opinion that Greg should take a hint from '70's singer-songwriters' aesthetic, but I also realized that if it were up to me, I would filter every pop song ever recorded through that same style. Not to mention that Greg is more responsible with his own music than I give him credit for. In fact, he might be on to something. It had never occured to me that prior to hearing Gescha's music that lo-fi goes both ways - that recording with a shitty four-track recorded in your parents' basement is just as valid as using outrageously cheesy MIDI drum patterns and acoustic/ electric guitar with flanger drizzled all over it.
This newfound open-mindedness helps "Passage" come alive - the skill, not only a penchant for melody but a newfound knack for monster guitar slinging, is fantastically apparent here, more exciting than ever before. Slow jams like "On Holiday" and "Pale.White.Skin" are not just pretty, but heartbreaking and nostalgic (particularly impressive considering "Pale.White.Skin" shockingly borrows a melody from Alanis Morrisette's "Ironic"), and the few rockers really bring it an old school way, like the aforementioned "Sailflight", "Rainbow" and album highlight "Antibiotic", which features guitar hooks that put every track on the last Built To Spill record to shame.
Even though Gescha has made a statement about the way he wants his music to sound, and I'm at peace with that, there are some definite moments where his maturity just as a general maker of music come through, in things as simple as kicking the distortion in at the right time, and knowing when to mix the vocals high, that make "Passage" a much more satisfying listen than his previous effort. There was an irksome flavour of kischiness present on his self-titled that has now been replaced by a sense of comfort with the songs, a feeling that Gescha has become a lot more in tune with what he likes to hear, and most importantly, what a fantastic songwriter he really is.
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