Thursday, May 31, 2012

In-store: Doug Paisley

Doug Paisley

Soundscapes. Tuesday, May 31, 2011.

Though Constant Companion, the second album from local troubadour Doug Paisley had originally come out near the end of 2010 on Brooklyn-based imprint No Quarter, it had been picked up for a domestic re-issue by MapleMusic, leading to a charm offensive and PR blitz (about which, more anon). Although part of that was trying to break through to the broader public — the band looked mildly discombobulated, as their long day's promo work had started at 5:30 a.m. to get ready for a TV breakfast show appearance — it also made sense to celebrate the album at Soundscapes, who had been championing it for months.

Which isn't to say that Paisley wasn't a bit skeptical coming in: "I gotta say, I've only done one in-store in my life, and it was in Chicago at this apparently well-known record store. And it was the first time I ever toured in the States, so I was pretty excited to go to this big-deal in-store. And I went down there, and it was just me and the guy that set up my mic and this guy that was shopping for electronica records... and I was kinda in the way."

Happily, Paisley was buoyed up with the robust turnout on hand, and lead off, like the album, with "No One But You". And, like the album, Jen Castle was on hand to sing harmony. Besides her, Paisley was playing with a three-piece backing band, keyb/bass/drums.1 This was a bit less of a hony-tonk rockin' alignment than the last time I'd seen him play, but being a bit more stripped-down was a chance to really hear the fabulous timbre of Paisley's voice. He also revealed himself to be a nimble picker on his semi-acoustic.

His technical gifts, however, are just means to deliver his songs. The country/folk tunes are expertly-constructed, but never just feel like technical exercises when delivered with Paisley's soulful conviction. His personality was also quite present in his winning banter. Like the proverbial back-porch balladeer, Paisley isn't one to rush through things, taking a moment for random small-talk as he tuned — at one point taking comfort in the small dog that one attendee had brought to the store.

The setlist mostly stuck to the "new" album at hand, though he did dip back to his earlier, self-titled effort for "Broken in Two" and "What About Us?" and threw in the unrecorded "Song My Love Can Sing" — nine songs, all told, with Castle returning for a couple more before set's end.

"I'd like to say you guys have redeemed in-stores for me," he said before launching into the last song. "I'm one for two now." Finishing with the apropos "Always Say Goodbye", Paisley closed with a reminder for the accompanying "release party" full gig a few days ahead — about which, also more anon.2

Listen to a track from this set here.

1 The latter was filled out by the always-flexible Dan Gaucher, currently out on tour with Sandro Perri.

2 It should be noted that Paisley has already had another new release in the interim, with the Golden Embers EP arriving last month.

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