Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
When you see Paleface take any stage, the immediate reaction - and this should be uniform in any calculation - is that he's somewhat nuts. He's a big man, with the broad shoulders of a linebacker and a big, sneaky sort of grin and he dives right into a set that plays out like a sprinting, two-person play with multiple acts and the energy of a person who might feel as if he no longer has an unlimited time to live. There's a sense that he's getting as much done as he possibly can and he's entertaining all of the crazy thoughts that has knocking around. Granted, these thoughts aren't as crazy as we're making them out to be, but there does seem to be a mania about the way Paleface and his musical companion Monica "Mo" Samalot tear ferociously through a set of songs that consist of all kinds of examples of a man who is taking a studious look at his makeup and the chemistry that binds him to the world as it is (unchangeable) and that the intriguing ways that he interacts with it all. He does it with a drifter's mentality, with a self-assured passion for trying to get out of this life alive - still with that sneaky grin hanging from his face - and causing more joy than pain while he's here. He sings about rock and roll with the romantic notion of someone who believes it's more than just music, who believes that it is life. He sings about the trickiness of making things work out when they don't want to and he does so with a twist of Nashville, M. Ward and hints of Louis Armstrong. Paleface is a man who would encourage everyone still hanging around late at night to have another round and see what happens. He's a the-night-is-still-young kind of fellow and yet there's evidence in his lyrics that he knows and has seen over and over that the afterhours escapades just lead to more searching and foggier heads. On his newest album, "One Big Party," he tells the tales of folks "looking for some sign of life," and that group includes himself. He finds that it's hard to find and it causes some consternation and sadness. He seems to have a fascination with those stuck in one place and looking to get somewhere other than there. He explains it aptly when he sings on "Analyze It," "They're trying to find a way to cross that great divide/They're only trying to survive." You take the character from "She's So" into account: "She listens to the enemy and she dances with a beer in her hand/She doesn't really care but it might be okay if you say you understand because she's so rock and roll/Ahhh/And she trips all night and she tells you about it in the morning if you're awake/Perfection is a lost art, she says/Everybody can afford a couple of mistakes." These are his people. They are the people that he most empathizes with and we fall easily for their ragged situations.