A blend of influences that produce a good, if not startlingly original, album.
One of the figures who looms largest as an influence on the current crop of Americana artists is tom Petty. The opening title song of this six track EP/Album is exactly the sort of relaxed country flavoured soft rock that Petty did so well later in his career.
The second song, ‘Flame’, is equal parts Searchers guitar line (think Needles and Pins) and a vocal refrain that is more than a little reminiscent of ‘When Will I Be Loved’. Pagliari’s singing has more than a little of the other great influence, Springsteen, about it, and he sues that to great effect on the next song, ‘Down In A Rainstorm’. The brass and organ draw on the sort of Southern Soul he doubtless heard growing up in Memphis.
The fact that his influences are fairly obvious is not in itself a problem, as he uses them well enough. The songs are mostly good, ‘This Time Will Tell’ is about the weakest and even that is a pleasant take on the basic Petty template. ‘Here Comes A Woman’ is another song that reminds you of something else, in this case ‘Here Comes The Night’. It’s rescued by the guitar solo which is thoughtful and understated. Final song ‘Sweet Dream’ has a slightly psychedelic feel to it and along with ‘Down In A Rainstorm’ is the standout song here.
With guests including Sadler Vaden of Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, there is no shortage of talent on offer to realise Pagliari’s vision for the music and he has clearly decided to produce six good songs rather than pad it out to a full album length. In the days of the Spotify algorithm pushing artists to ever longer releases he has to be praised for that. While there is nothing startlingly original about any of the music there is an art in taking the best of other artists and making something new with it and with ‘Hard Lessons’ Nick Pagliari has done just that.