Americana is a pretty broad term when it comes to music. While it may not be the most descriptive term, sometimes it is the best one for an artist or album because the music encompasses so many varieties of American music. Still Here by Don Gallardo is an album that is true Americana because it is influenced by country, bluegrass, and even jazz.
Maybe it's not easy to compare someone to Tom Petty. After all Petty was a master at writing hit songs. However, it doesn't take long to realize the similarity between Gallardo and Petty. The guitar in the opening track "Something I Gotta Learn" is very similar to what you hear in songs by Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers. The melody also has some similarities. Namely, this is a rock and roll song that definitely has roots in country. The other similarity is that this is an easy song to sing - even when you hear it for the first time. "Kicking up the Pavement" is also reminiscent of Tom Petty. It's hard not to think about "Time to Get Going" when you hear this tune.
If you're a fan of good storytelling, "Same Ol' Alley Talkin' Blues #12" is a song you will enjoy. The story follows the narrator through an alcohol-induced dream where he gets evicted for being a vagabond. This song has a good rhythm and a melody that brings Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young to mind, but it is driven by the banjo. The banjo part is closer to what you'd hear in an Irish song than a country song, and it really makes the tune.
"Stay Awhile" is a change of pace from the rest of the songs. Overall the song has a jazzy feel, punctuated by the clarinet, which lends a Dixieland feel to the song. It's hard not to think about summer when you hear this. More to the point it sounds like a song that could be featured in an ad where the actors get relief from the heat by sipping tall glasses of lemonade.
Some bluegrass influence can be heard in the banjo part of "Ballad of a Stranger's Heart". At the same time, you can also hear some soul influence in the organ. Then you hear the pedal steel in the instrumental break, and you're reminded of the Bakersfield sound.
This is an album that covers the breadth of American music from bluegrass to jazz. Gallardo shows himself to be both a talented songwriter and storyteller. Still Here (Rock Ridge Music) will be available everywhere on April 27.