Pablo | Half the Time (Curb Appeal)

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cd_pabloThe moods shift from gloomy to almost psychedelic to nearly joyous. But each feeling evoked has kind of a dark cast to it, as well. Perhaps it has something to do with the use of minor keys in a lot of the songs.

 

 

 

 

With a soft, droning vocal and slowly building guitar melody, Pablo's debut album starts off sounding like something Nick Drake could've recorded had he not descended into madness. The disc maintains this feeling throughout most of its half-hour run time, with only a few instances that raise the volume level past five. The warm and inviting tones that emanate from the speakers show a true emotional depth that you seldom find in most modern music. Half the Time is a very interesting listen. The musicians—Paul Schalda on vocals and guitar, his brother William on piano, Paul's wife Margaret on backing vocals, and brothers Michael and William Strandberg on bass and percussion, respectively—exhibit a true mastery of their chosen instruments.

The moods shift from gloomy to almost psychedelic to nearly joyous. But each feeling evoked has kind of a dark cast to it, as well. Perhaps it has something to do with the use of minor keys in a lot of the songs. That renders even a happier tune like "Calm Down" a little ghostly. It works to the benefit of the music, whatever the case may be.

The sparse sound that permeates most of the disc is also working in Pablo's favor. While there is not a full sound, the muffled drums and distant sounding piano complement Schalda's vocals and guitar nicely. A lot of the music on the disc flows from one song to the next, as well, which almost gives it the feeling of a concept album. Although it's not, it does take you in logical directions with emotion, both lyrically and musically. The title track sounds perfectly placed after the first cut, "Wall St.," and so on down the line.

There are some songs that do stand out above the rest, though, most notably "Loser Crew," "Words for Free," "Get Around," and "Till We Die." While the whole CD is a great listen, these particular tracks make it an especially worthy purchase.

I foresee Pablo becoming that kind of band that achieves greatness while playing to mostly small houses throughout its career. They have a great sound, but not one that will catch on in the mainstream, which-depending on how you look at things-is probably a good thing. A- | Tyson Blanquart

RIYL: Nick Drake, The Decemberists, Gomez, The Earlies

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