The veteran singer/songwriter and virtuoso guitarist mixes together funky grooves, bluesy backbeats, and jazzy guitar licks with a classic pop sound for a unique R & B stew. The mainstay of the Hamilton music scene has strung together five great original songs that will keep the fingers snapping and the dance floor hopping.
Front and centre is Pacey’s authoritative, smoky voice, a bluesy howl that only comes from years of experience on the road and in the studio. On this set he leads a crack band of seasoned players, including bassist Howard Ayee (Moe Koffman, Eddie Schwartz, Rough Trade), drummer Michael Sloski (Ben E. King, Long John Baldry, Bruce Cockburn) and Rob Gusevs (The Arrows) on keyboards.
The title track opens things off, a “little story about what love can do”, as Pacey sings. This song sets the tempo for the rest of the collection, with blasts of trombone from Jay Burr giving the track a bit of a New Orleans feel. “Road Song” winds down with Burr bringing the song home for the final 40 seconds as the band plays on behind him.
A brief scat vocal run from Pacey opens the next song, “Once Again”. Pacey says this number laments the state of our environment as governments push economic boundaries to their limit during an ongoing struggle for power and control of the land and its resources.
“There’s a method to my madness,” he sings, “now you might say, let’s end it now, let’s seize the day, anytime now no one knows, truth or dare now, this horror show”.
For Pacey, who came of age in the 1960s and 1970s, it harkens back to the protest movements of that time, when ecological worries first hit his generation.
Pacey’s career goes back that far, from being the first local musician to play Hamilton Place, where he was featured as the opening act for the Duke Ellington Orchestra, to opening shows for legendary Canadian rock band Crowbar. Later, he worked with Jacqui and Lindsay Morgan and guested with the likes of Robbie Lane and the Sugar Shoppe and was offered a chance to join the Buddy Rich Band and to audition for the band Chicago.
The EP continues with another love song, “This Minute”. It’s a celebration of a love that is eternal and true, one that brings pure joy and inspiration. “I’m so glad that I met you, makes my mind sky clear blue,” sings Pacey, “this minute turns to a lifetime, I’m so in love with you”.
Another message song, featuring Burr’s trombone once again, “Sad Days” takes on the economic situation and the hopelessness felt by so many just trying to get by amidst rising inflation and economic peril. Though the track laments the state of our times, it’s just as upbeat and enjoyable as the rest of the collection.
Road Songs concludes with “The Damage is Done”, a song Pacey has been playing live for over a decade with various combos. To experience his playing on this number is magical, both hands flying lightning fast across the fretboard. It’s no surprise from a man who won a number of local and international guitar championships before he was even 18 years old.
Listen to the “Damage is Done” on Spotify here: https://open.spotify.com/album/1oZW3Rnuf93N05bnJKT1Y4?si=Vi8oJD2jRGu6W8_ZI0r1Aw&nd=1
Here, the song gets the full band treatment, expertly recorded at Grant Avenue and Pine Street Studios. Pacey’s production and the band’s playing punches it up that extra notch, as they groove the blues away to wrap up the EP.
For the Hamilton Music Awards nominee, Road Songs is sure to keep the momentum going for the esteemed veteran. Give it a listen now, and if you have a chance to see Kyle Pacey live, don’t miss it. You gotta see him to believe him.