Greg Loiacono has made his living putting out music under a number of more recognizable names than his own, but a few weeks ago came his first full length solo LP titled Songs From A Golden Dream.
Aside from Purgatory, an EP he released under his own name in 2003 and a one-off record called Listen To My Shapes in 2006 by a band he called Sensations, Loiacano’s resume largely is focused on his contribution to the San Francisco Bay Area music scene and a foundation of the “California Soul” sound as guitarist for The Mother Hips.
“The material on Songs From a Golden Dream comes from different periods of my writing,” Loiacano told JamBase. “Some of the songs are about ten years old. Others are brand new. I finally had a collection of songs that I really believed in and seemed to go very well together, even considering the span of time between some of them.”
Even after several listens, the similarities across tunes are much more realized than any inconsistencies. Throughout the album, Loiacono’s lyrics tell stories with build-up, climaxes and suspense all accentuated and sometimes down-played by the wailing of a pedal steel or subtle picking melody of a booming and rich acoustic.
A focal element of the album “The Red Thread” parts 1 2 and 3 starts, closes and appears exactly halfway through the 11 tracks, respectfully. “The Red Thread Part I: The Gloaming” opens the album strong, featuring a bouncy, classic rock and roll tempo paired with Loiacono’s signature falsetto that eventually gives in to a reverb-drenched breakdown.
“Ship of Fear” is a beautifully slow song and one of if not the strongest cut on the album. A stark capturing of emotionally heavy concepts helps this track soar rather than sink. It’s not the shortest track on the album, in fact it is one of the longer ones at over four minutes, but it feels as though it could easily be stretched into 10 minutes without losing its weight.
“Tell It To The Trees”, the third track in, throws back to thumping guitars and rabbit-thumping snare beats throughout. It closes with a very warm toned guitar solo that leads into “Mahalia Mornings” with a distant organ sound, as if resonating through an empty church’s stained glass windows in a symphony of sunshine.
A line that is sure to resonate through the day with many listeners, comes from “Mornings”: “I found your record somewhere in the back of my uncle’s closet / Smile Smile Smile went all the way across the jacket / it said you were the greatest and I really do believe them / mornings mornings mornings I never will forget.”
“Please Let Us Be Friends” has an almost military snare beat over a classical, clean melody that floats on reverb. The left to right audio movement and Loiacono’s soprano boarders on some strangely attractive take that resembles Jack Black collaborating with Sgt. Pepper.
“The Red Thread Part II (An Interlude)” is a heavy and sultry contrast to the bubbly and high pitched melody of the previous track, but continues the reverby splash with vocally sensational “ahhs” and a fat bass line that fades delicately into “Sunny Day Blues.”
A country tune dressing up in blue, “Sunny Day Blues” takes the listener on a gallop through the mind. Too often mental illnesses and deeply disturbing thoughts can be hard to spot and even make the sufferer question their own sanity. Lyrics like “sunny day / should be feeling fine // as far as I can tell / you don’t know me very well /” give a beautifully melancholy voice to the voiceless in that regard.
At almost six and a half minutes, “I Can’t Be Your Anything” is the longest track on the album, the slow introduction and defeated lyrics are a kind of emotional salt for anyone who has or continues to struggle with loss and an inability to measure up. But throughout the track, hopeful understanding remains an underlying theme. Despite the calm and smooth delivery of the track, a frantic lead guitar plays out several disjointed arguments and deafening points of view.
“Away From The Stones” turns the vibe on its heels, opening with a jangly call and response between instruments, teasing the uptempo tune as the record jumps the listener to attention. It rollicks and flutters through witty lyrics and beautiful arrangements while managing to come across as approachable as a basic blues song with a hint of truth.
“Bus Ride Blues” features a basic blues structure, and Loiacono lowers his voice into his best John Bell for the slow driving song. The album closes with “The Red Thread Part III,” connecting the beginning and the end and stringing throughout, the ‘red thread’ is simply that singular timeline that you actually followed, not the frayed endings of timelines never realized.
Songs From A Golden Dream is a dream realized for Loiacono, and a perfect reflection for anyone with a long, quiet drive ahead of them.