REVIEW: Bradley Palermo’s Debut Album, “Volume 1” Honestly Depicts the Bitter Sweetness of Life

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  • 1
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    1
    Share
Bradley Palermo Volume 1 Album Art

Pre-Order

iTunes | Amazon Music

Bradley Palermo, a solo folk/punk artist in Los Angeles, is debuting his first full length album, Volume 1, on Friday, April 19. The record is a result of a successful crowdfunding campaign late last year, followed by a recently completed international tour. Comprised of previously released singles, the songs were reworked and remastered to create the cohesive Volume 1. Being no stranger to life on the road and the various trials of life, Volume 1 captures an autobiographical letter written to anyone who has experienced life, death, love, and loss.

Before setting out on his solo folk career, Palermo spent 15 years fronting the bands The Sudden Passion and Femme Fatality. He grew up in St. Louis, MO playing in local indie bands. All the while he was developing an affinity for the alt-country bands that were emerging from the region at the time. Palermo draws inspiration from Americana acts like Son Volt and The Bottle Rockets, and folk-punk troubadours such as Chuck Ragan and David Dondero (both of whom he’s now shared the stage with). His influences and past come together in the raw and honest Volume 1.

Stream

Tracklist:

Tombstones
I Like things That Kill
All My Friends (Have Died)
2nd Wind
The Long Way
Deep Valley Blues
Lost In August
The High Cost of Free Living
Trouble To Find
Hollywood, Hollywood

Tombstones

As the first track on Volume 1, “Tombstones” starts with a synth riff that would make Femme Fatality fans grin with a sense of familiarity. The track is driven by a powerful, classic acoustic guitar rhythm that instantly tells you that you’re in for a catchy song. Palermo sings of living as an artist on the road, away from the draining and lifeless corporate existence. Palermo sings in the chorus, “I’ve done the 9 to 6, pulling out my hair, carving up my wrist… I think it’s safe to say I’ve done gone and made my escape.” Displaying Americana at it’s finest, Tombstones would make the perfect bonfire summer sing-along about free living.

I Like Things That Kill

Following “Tombstones” is another catchy acoustic rhythm along with a steel guitar carrying the melody. Palermo sings the song title to implant into your head, “I like things that kill”. This song turns out to be a country/folk love song with a hint of a punk chorus. Reminiscing, he starts the first verse and ends the song with the same lines, “All the things I loved are all the things I’ve quit. I miss you like I miss whiskey, cocaine and cigarettes…”, driving the listener into the building chorus with, “I like things that waste me, eradicate me, honey, I like things that kill… I like things that kill”. Building a scene of a love addiction for a lover long gone, the track pings familiar emotions and imagery that nearly any listener can relate and sing to, making it a brilliantly written piece.

All My Friends (Have Died)

As the song title alludes to, this track is a somber reminder of all the people who have left this earth. In this country/Americana track, Palermo describes the things his friends supposedly used to do, along with specific names and situations of unfortunate fates. This track brings the pain and haunting hole that is created when someone you know passes: “My friends don’t pick up the phone or text me back when I say ‘What’s up?’… Even though I’m up here singing, I feel a little dead inside, cause all of my friends have died.” After the second chorus, Palermo wistfully yells, “And I fucking miss ’em, man!”, followed by a perfectly placed electric guitar solo to represent those memories in a celebration of what once was. He finished out the song by repeating the first verse and ending it all with a cymbal tap fading out.

2nd Wind

“2nd Wind” comes in to perk you up from “All My Friends (Have Died)”. The addition of harmonica in the instrument arsenal is introduced in a tale of a refreshing new romance in the time of personal turmoil. Palermo sings, “There ain’t no use in hiding it, I was out running all common sense. No one gets that drunk on accident.” He continues to tell the tale of meeting a woman that saved him: “And in this City of Angels, she was the only one I’ve met. Call me a holy roller cause I am born again.” “2nd Wind” ends leaving the listener ready for a new emotional start, which is exactly what we all need from time to time.

The Long Way

“The Long Way” describes Palermo’s painful first marriage, his move to LA, and other catalyzing events that brought him to where he is now. The track introduces a grittier tone, and has breathy falsetto backing vocals that bring out strong emotional ties to the lyrical content. The bridge absolutely shines, bringing a climax of both emotion and unexpected production value, turning the featured lower frequency instruments that are too often ignored or omitted in the genre into stars. The bass and a low-programmed synth add another depth of seriousness that speaks volumes along Palermo’s raspy cries. “The Long Way” is a unique turn in the album that keeps the listener’s engagement.

Deep Valley Blues

Ever the catchy writer, Palermo’s “Deep Valley Blues” would be a successful radio single. Short and fun, it captures the feeling of old folk/country/blues that is the heart of Volume 1. Touching on the differences between Los Angeles (San Fernando Valley area) and his hometown of St. Louis, Palermo paints a picture of homesickness in the most concise way. “Deep Valley Blues” is destined to be a popular live show sing-along. “I’ve got them… deep valley blues. It’s gonna take me too much time to make my way home you, and you know it ain’t the distance, honey, it’s the altitude… I’ve got them… deep valley blues…

Lost In August

In a track that could easily be sung by Ben Gibbard (Death Cab For Cutie/The Postal Service), the album takes another turn in a light and romantic way. In true indie/folk fashion, “Lost In August” kicks off with a ukulele and accordion-driven rhythm. The composition creates a dreamy and nostalgic backdrop to Palermo’s toned-down vocals. The lyrics and tone show the versatility of Palermo’s songwriting skills, as he lets atmosphere take the place of country-harsh vocals and to-the-point lyrics. A delightful change of pace that’s sure to grasp listeners of overlapping rock/indie/folk genres.

The High Cost of Free Living

The synth makes another appearance in the folk piece, “The High Cost of Free Living”. A straightforward song with a country baseline. Palermo makes use of multiple instruments and harmonies to keep the listener engaged through lyrics of alcoholism and the drawbacks of trying to live as an artist. Although it’s not the strongest song lyrically on the album, it keeps on par with being a catchy sing-along like earlier tracks.

Trouble to Find

“Trouble to Find” starts out with an interesting bass riff seemingly taken from the brainwaves of Brian Ritchie (The Violent Femmes). Palermo brings us through a folk song about dealing with toxic personalities and mental illness. This track circles us back around to the tone of the first half of the album. He paints the imagery of an adversary and tries to rationalize the situation, familiar to what many people might think and say in that kind of situation. However, the song ends right when the listener feels like there might be more waiting to be told. It feels a little incomplete, despite the great storytelling.

Hollywood, Hollywood

The last track on Volume 1, “Hollywood, Hollywood” completes the journey of Palermo’s folk tale, reiterating how Hollywood isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, but you just make the best of it. It gives the feeling that everyone is trying to be someone, trying to act busy, having superficial relationships, etc. Although it is also a short track, it ends the album saying that the journey is over and he is here now, trying to find his way. It’s a perfect ending to his story.

Final Thoughts

Bradley Palermo’s Volume 1 is nearly a perfect folk album. Featuring a variety of influences, emotions, and incredibly candid lyrics, the album is easy to listen to and connect with, especially for artists. None of the tracks are boring, and they display incredibly strong songwriting ability. The album plays like a story Palermo might tell you himself at a bar over some drinks. Engaging, intimate, and memorable, Volume 1 would be a great introductory piece to new listeners of the folk genre.

Bradley Palermo Volume 1 Album Art

Pre-Order

iTunes | Amazon Music

Tour Dates

4/24 Los Angeles, CA @ Satellite (album release show) #
4/30 Victorville, CA @ Kennedy’s Pub *
5/01 Las Vegas, NV @ The Dive Bar *
5/02 Reno, NV @ Pignic Pub *
5/03 Willits, CA @ Shanachie Pub *
5/04 San Francisco, CA @ The Plough & The Stars *
5/05 Bakersfield, CA @ El Conquistador Music Experience  (album release show) *
5/07 Canoga Park, CA @ Scotland Yard Pub * %
5/08 Santa Ana, CA @ Beatnik Bandito Music Emporium (album release show) *
5/09 Lancaster, CA @ The Britisher *
5/10 San Diego, CA @ Rosie O’Grady’s (album release show) *
5/11 Tucson, AZ @ Saint Charles Tavern *
5/12 Tempe, AZ @ Yucca Tap *
5/13 Yuma, AZ @ Littlewood Art Co-Op *
5/14 Flagstaff, AZ @ The Hive *
5/24 Las Vegas, NV @ Citrus ^
7/24 Cottage Grove, OR @ Brewstation %
7/25 Seattle, WA @ Skylark %
7/26 Tacoma, WA @ The Valley %
7/27 Bremerton, WA @ Hi-Fidelity Lounge %
7/28 Portland, OR @ Hawthorne Hideaway %

^= Punk Rock Bowling club show with Amigo The Devil, Bridge City Sinners, and Pinata Protest
#= supporting Typesetter
*= w/ Tim Holehosue
%= w/ Sim Williams

Watch Live Performances:

2nd Wind | Deep Valley Blues
I Like Things That Kill | Tombstones

Bradley Palermo Online:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Featured photo (top) by Marisa Palermo

Liked it? Take a second to support Burning Hot Events by Kataklizmic Design on Patreon!
Brianne Dunn
Content Editor at Burning Hot Events
Trained in Music Marketing and Promotions for 13 years. Actively an Audio Technician in LA. Guitarist, Makeup Artist; lover of concerts, skateboarding, animals, and the horror genre. Believes in the Oxford comma.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.