Everybody Breaks (Narnack)
by Scott Deckman
If Nick Drake was around in 2011, he’d probably be a Garrett Pierce fan. On four-song EP Everybody Breaks, Pierce sings about some weighty psychological issues amid acoustic guitar. Titular song “Everybody Breaks” is immediately catchy, some feat since this is singer/songwriter fare to the core: No pop ready-mades here. Pierce has a versatile, at-times fragile voice and it works well on the titular song, letting us know that “everybody breaks without knowing quite why.”
Aside from the poignant lyrics which meander between morbid and discovery, you could picture “Everybody Breaks” being used in anything from a Volkswagen commercial to a moving moment in an indie film. And it’s this immediacy, as in immediately listenable, that makes Everybody Breaks stand out. It comes off like a cousin of Elliot Smith’s who demands to be heard. “Shape Us Like Waves” features more somber lyrics, this time buttressed by cello and vocal help from Jen Grady of You Are Plural.
“A Bus In Africa” is a harrowing tale of a tourist getting more than he bargained for from the natives. A gang of bandits have sieged his bus and we listen as everyone is taken off the vehicle. A friend of the narrator may’ve been shot, and all the protagonist can think of is his family. We’re left uncertain whether he gets out of it alive. Scary stuff. The somber tale is juxtaposed by an easy beat. Whether he means it or not, Pierce is also taking the piss out of Stuff White People Like types here, showing us that the bloody Third World, for all its primal romanticism, really isn’t a place for guys like him. Or, as Liz Phair sang in “Shane,” “You’ve gotta watch your ass.”
In Africa, you do.
Closer “In Silence” continues the strum-hum, but adds tasteful guitar-sounding distorted organ done up on GarageBand, which gives another contemplative number added resonance. It’s a post-modern Peter, Paul and Mary meditation on… well, I can’t even figure it out, but it’s deep, brother.