Music : A natural man: Dusty Pas'cal
Dusty Pas'cal, whose debut album, "Home," sold 10,000 copies and his second album, "More," is meeting even greater success, was born in Skaneateles, a small town outside Syracuse, N.Y. When he was 20 years old, he took over his father's roofing company.
"I know it sounds weird," said Mr. Pas'cal in a telephone interview last week, with an easy, somehow edgeless voice. "What I really want is to run this family business. I want to be able to take inspiration from that daily grind, that hustle - that's where I want art to come from." It's unlikely that the 30 year-old singer/songwriter will ever leave his hometown where he lives with his wife (his high school girlfriend), and their five kids.
"More," released last year, is a vibrant reflection of Mr. Pas'cal's diehard devotion to his family and work - a father and husband's un-extinguishable desire to always give more.
Photo courtesy of Dusty Pas'cal
In many ways, Dusty Pas'cal's music resembles the natural world more than anything manmade. There are few surprises; each change and cadence seems to evolve organically from the one that precedes it. You find yourself savoring each song out of an irrational fear that by the time you listen again it will have grown into something else.
Mr. Pas'cal's writing process helps explain his songs' untreated quality. "When I first write a song I have no clue what the song is about," he said. "I find that the melody shapes the words. It takes a while sometimes for that all to come together - the melody of the guitar, the melody of the vocals, and then the lyrics wrapping around the song. But once that happens the song is writing itself on its own and I had nothing to do with it."
There's hardly ever a third party in Mr. Pas'cal's songs. It's him and the person he's talking to - maybe his wife or his brother. Often he's threatening to leave or asking for forgiveness. Most of the songs on "More" contain a mixture of hope and doubt, weariness and love. Much like nature, their beauty is derived from their simultaneous complexity and simplicity.
This is indicative of the way in which Mr. Pas'cal uses songwriting as therapy. Listening as he explores deeply personal issues, you sometimes feel you should turn down the volume and let Mr. Pas'cal work it out on his own. Though his voice, earnest and soulful, doesn't make this easy.
The first lyrics on the album are accompanied only by an acoustic guitar: "Even though we're even/ I never meant them words I said/ I just tried to keep you distant and alone/ I could clean up all the reasons why I did them things I did/ But it just won't matter any when I'm gone."
The only thing that possibly detracts from the force of his poetry is his decision to use incorrect grammar.
"Boston," the second song, is more influenced by soul music than by folk. His voice adapts an energetic weariness unique to blues singers. The empty spaces present in his quieter songs, allowing the acoustic guitar to breath and resonate, are full - a Hammond B3 organ blankets the verse; gospel style backup vocals over the choruses stoke electric guitar solos.
Mr. Pas'cal explains that the title track is about "wanting to give more to my family and my wife, and doubting myself, and the struggle to keep that passion alive."
Mr. Pas'cal's music, especially to a younger ear, is not unique. But his lyrics and his honest delivery stand out. "I know my strength is in those words and what they're saying to people," he said, adding that he is continually amazed when fans interpret his songs in ways he never intended. "It makes me realize that I'm just the first one who heard the song. The truth lies in whoever listens to it."
Dusty Pas'cal, Danny Welch, and Bobby Perry on Friday, Feb. 6, at 7:30 pm, at the Katharine Cornell Theatre.