Full disclosure: I've known Mike Giacolino for years. Throughout time, I've seen his musical input and output waft through multitudinous phases – from metal to jagged post-punk to dancepop. Throughout it all, he's been a stellar songwriter, with a knack for smart, lyrical plays alongside unique, hooky melodies. No matter the genre, this never wavers. So it seems fitting that the first official record Giacolino releases to the public harkens to his roots: a self-produced, singer-songwriter effort. And it's a gem… and it will be a great to see him at the High Dive tonight.
The tracks on The Longest Year tell one of the oldest tales: love lost. The heartfelt, painfully real lyrics coalesce to make this album more of a collected story than a random smattering of individual tracks. Truth told, all of this could amount to what "High Fidelity" dubs "sad bastard music" But Giacolino has another ace up his sleeve – an ability to craft tunes that lift the soul, even while sporting sorrowful lyrics. The result is not all "tears in your beer," but accessible, occasionally (dare I say) happy songs. The kind perfect for driving on long roads at night with lots to think about. This, too, makes sense. Giacolino composed most of the material on The Longest Year while on the road (he was part of Brandi Carlile's traveling tour as a guitar tech. You may have also seen Giacolino take the stage at the Paramount Theater in 2007 as a pianist on one Carlile's songs.)
On The Longest Year, the beautiful pedal steel oozes movement through the 10 tracks – both wistful and foreword thinking, echoing Giacolino's progression through various stages of his musical journey through grief. Layers of harmonica and swooping strings atop plaintive vocals lend a throw-back note, rendering the songs as timeless as they are heartfelt.
The result is an album for the walking wounded, the forward motion signaling the path to healing hearts.