Chasing Down a Spark

Pittsburgh's own Bill Deasy, frontman for '90s band The Gathering Field, has been releasing his own solo albums in recent years. The follow-up to 2003's well-received Good Day, No Rain is another collection of terrific choruses and uplifting lyrics.

The new CD is produced by Kevin Salem, a singer/songwriter who emerged out of Boston to become recently an in-demand producer and session player for many indie-minded artists. Over the years, Salem has worked with indie rock bands Dumptruck and Madder Rose, as well as singer/songwriters Freedy Johnston, Matt Keating, and (more recently) Rachael Yamagata.

The album's lead-off tune is "Until I Get It Right," a hopeful song about perseverance in the face of troubles. "Down this road might find anything, rocks or gold," sings Deasy, over a backing track that falls somewhere between alt-country and jangle-pop. The song, with its gently soaring chorus and diamond-in-the-rough lyrics, sets the tone for the rest of the album.

The song "Levi" is an almost film-noir-ish pastiche set in New York City, featuring lines like, "She greeted me sadly then asked me my game/A five-dollar whore with a ten-dollar name." Both "Fireflies" and "Now That I Know What It Means" are engaging songs about trying to make a go at love, and "Pale" is about after a relationship heads south.

The CD features a number of familiar names. The Clarks' Rob James is one of the band members throughout the album. Scott Blasey and Donnie Iris also pop in to contribute backing vocals on one song each. Non-Burgh friends on the disc include Maia Sharp, who adds some harmonies on four songs, and Chicago singer/songwriter Rachael Yamagata does so on two tracks.

Chasing Down a Spark is a dozen rootsy songs which continues the evolution of a fine Pittsburgh songwriter. Well-crafted songs, giant choruses, rock guitars, and whole ton of talent. What more can you ask for?

Mike Sauter, WYEP Music Director