We all have our different approaches to what kind of music makes our world spin but some bands offer so much to everyone, they make you feel alive and emotional. I just recently started listening to Pale Blue Dot – I know what their fans are thinking: “Where have I been?” I fell in love with my preview listening of their 2018 album – “Anatomy”. They definitely have a unique style in everything they have produced, and they have provided the variety, instrumental excellence and passionate vocals which appeal to a wide-ranging audience. Their artistry shows, as well as an honesty of where life has, and is, taking them. Pale Blue Dot is a band based in Charlottesville, founded by musician Tony LaRocco as a way to bring fellow musicians together to explore the possibilities presented by his songwriting. Pop, alternative, progressive rock, folk and bebop jazz are all sources of inspiration for the band’s ever evolving sound.
Pale Blue Dot strike hard from the very first listen. Quality writing and production make the presentation of their songs a pleasure to listen to. In an evolving line-up, the guitars add the bite and crunch the band needs to acquire its edge, while the bass and drums, drive the rhythm section through its many rhythmic complexities and nuances.
And then there is the immense band leader and songwriter, Tony LaRocco, on vocals and guitar. He quite simply turns in vocal performances you’d never have imagined possible. Throughout this record, he is confident, clear, and proud, discovering and displaying unexpected subtleties in his bluesy rasp.
It’s actually a little hard to focus on what the rest of the band are doing for the first couple of listens, because Tony’s presence is so dominant. His vocal melodies, are expressive, expansive, and totally considered. Listen to “Yesterday’s News” and “Suitcase”, to better understand what I mean by Tony being “dominant”.
Luckily, I listened through the album quite a few times, which allowed me to appreciate the brilliance of the other band members too. One of the most balanced and accessible tracks on the album, is the single “Only Love”. Upbeat and bustling with vibrancy, the track finds Tony LaRocco repping Charlottesville, alongside singer Yolanda Jones, and John D’Earth on Trumpet.
It’s a very fine performance from a collective who seemingly grow in stature, confidence, and ability by the bar. Bassist Drew Pompano and Johnny Stubbelfield on drums, drive the engine room with relentless zest on this track, while the shimmering keys by Butch Taylor fill in all spaces between the guitars of Sam Wilson, Peter Balogh and Will Thomas Reed.
Without forgetting Tucker Rogers who manages to ably squeeze his Dobro into the mix. “Only Love” is, indeed, totally awesome; a song that bursts through all of the restrictive stereotypes of its genre to reveal itself as something totally inspiring.
Pale Blue Dot is a collective with a defined sense of purpose – they focus on immersing you in their music, and letting the emotional peaks and valleys do the work of knocking you out!