music scenes come in two types: There are those that get notoriety and
legendary status across the world (whether deserving or not), and then
there are the thousands of other “scenes” that don’t get noticed
outside of their native locale. For a good two years San Diego had one
of the latter variety, and at the center of it was Gregory Page, Tom
Brosseau and Jason Mraz (seriously, he didn’t always suck). These three
played shows (often at the legendary Java Joes), recorded albums and even raised money
for a friend’s sex-change operation, all while feeding off each other
and creating, perhaps without realizing it, a scene.
as we all know, went on to make a couple of amazingly bad pop records
that stifle his song-writing skills beyond recognition. Brosseau, as some of us know, has released three great folk records, including his most recent, Empty Houses Are Lonely, which was mostly recorded back in those heady days. But who outside of San Diego has heard of Page?
Page has been in the music game for a while. Now in his forties, he has
self-recorded and released 14 albums and collaborated with John Doe,
Steve Poltz and Brosseau amongst others. But Love Made Me Drunk, out on A.J. Croce’s Seedling Records, is his first commercially backed set.
is the tightest rope a musician can walk, and Page has always tested
the line with his lyrics. Never one to turn down the obvious rhyme, you
can pretty well guess the coming word, but the lyrics on his commercial
debut stay mostly on the rope. Like Brosseau, Page sings it likes he
sees it. Love Made Me Drunk was written while he was
in Paris a few years back meeting his father for the first time, and
the album’s instrumentation and lyrical content paint as clear a
picture of the city as photographer Andre Kertesz’s work. Well, almost.
album’s title-track is also its best. Accordion, fiddle and a gingerly
strummed guitar provide the ambience for Page’s tale of waiting in vain
for some lover to come back. Page’s singing, combined with Cindy
Wasserman’s haunting backing vocals, sounds staticky, as if it’s coming
through a rickety old Victrola. Later, a somber piano ballad recounts
unhealed wounds on “Broken Hearted Leg,” and gives this great line that
almost everyone can relate to: “Yesterday I saw you again out walking
with your friends. I was just a ghost forgotten in the wind.”
in Paris” sees Page changing up his voice a little to an almost Kermit
the Frog nasal ness. The song is a descriptive retelling of a walk
through the streets of Paris and really captures the charm that Page
exudes. You can easily picture him out on this stroll, tipping his cap
to an elderly couple or giving a wink to a young girl.
I’ve seen Page perform live many times, and this is the first record that distills the easy-going intimacy felt at his shows. Love Made Me Drunk is
a highly stylized album, but its songs are relevant well beyond Paris.
Page’s welcoming vocal delivery has always had a market out there
somewhere; maybe on this release, it will finally find its place.
Gregory Page Web site (streaming audio)