Album Of The Week

May 14, 2020
 

Believe

Bill Curreri: Being about the moment and about the moment far ahead

 

By David McGee

 

HARD ROAD HOME

Bill Curreri

Bill Curreri Music

 

When ace guitarist-songwriter Bill Curreri began recording this, his third album, he could not have envisioned the world in which it would be released. Not all artists have thrived in the coronavirus pandemic, but some have found ways to get their work out to the public while sheltering in place. Curreri too might well benefit from a live streamed concert from the confines of home, but what he’s wrought on Hard Road Home is both about the moment and about the moment far ahead, when a planet remade by a novel coronavirus begins to redefine itself. At that moment, Hard Road Home will take on added urgency, but right here, right now, it needs to be heard, contemplated and absorbed.

‘Hard Road Home,’ Bill Curreri, from Hard Road Home

‘Still Running,’ Bill Curreri, from Hard Road Home

The sound is mostly rooted in what marketers (Curreri used to be one himself) call Classic Rock, with sizzling guitar shredding and picking, howling slide work and a virtuoso touch with tone and texture in service to a pedal-to-the-metal rhythmic attack, at once driving and gripping, an aural complement to the urgency of Curreri’s heartfelt messaging sung in a kind of pinched tenor voice that leaves no doubt as to its fierce commitment. On paper the lyrical sentiments might strike some as greeting card homilies, but these tales of Emersonian self-reliance and undaunted courage in the face of loss and unanticipated upheaval are coupled to ferocious, heat seeking musical backdrops, all of it pulsating as a whole and rising to a plane of transcendent, buoyant self-realization.

‘Call My Name,’ Bill Curreri, from Hard Road Home

So on paper if you shrug at passages such as “…though the years have passed me by/and all my dreams have died/I’m still running hard where I need to be” (from “Still Running”), or don’t get the depth of commitment persisting even when nature turns on him as he articulates in the straightforward chorus of “Call My Name” (“I can’t tell what’s in my heart/all I know is that I’m lost when we’re apart/so just call my name/when the sky is grey and the sun won’t shine/just call my name and I’ll be there for you/by your side…”), well, give him a moment in this moment, look around you and take heart. Bill Curreri is always confident of a new day dawning, but this truth of his rests on the twin pillars of an open heart and a fearless, life affirming spirit. The cover illustration, tellingly in black and white, depicts Curreri at one end of a winding desert road, mountains towering in the distant haze, somewhere far down the hard road home. Even in profile, even in an illustration, the point is poignantly clear; the road is still there, the end of it lies beyond the haze somewhere, but it’s there, visible in the mind’s eye, palpable in the searching human soul emerging whole from some ruined place. When the haze lifts, the heart will be home and free, where it needs to be. The world will be in order again. Believe.