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Albums Of The Week: David Picco | Until Now

Seven albums into his career, the veteran roots-rock singer-songwriter strikes gold with an LP that mines some recent dark times while moving on into a brighter future.

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “It’s safe to say that we’ve all been through some changes over the past few years. But for singer-songwriter David Picco, some major upheavals prompted him to try to rediscover joy in his life by getting back to basics with his music.

That journey is chronicled on Picco’s new album Until Now. Its 10 songs are infused with the ragged-but-right spirit of vintage roots-rock, with lyrics steeped in hard-earned life lessons. Working with a tight crew led by guitarist Jimmy Bowskill of The Sheepdogs and Blue Rodeo (who also engineered Until Now at his Ganaraska Recording Co. in Cobourg, Ont.), Picco and his supporting players — Ian McKeown on drums and pedal steel, and Steve O’Connor of The Jim Cuddy Band on keyboards — blazed through four days of sessions in spring 2023 to craft an album that runs the gamut of emotions.

A native of St. John’s, Picco has recently been splitting his time between Toronto and Austin, trying to make sense of all that’s happened to him. “Some of these songs are the most personal I’ve ever written,” he says. “They came out of dealing with the passing of my best friend and the end of my marriage. But I wanted the album to have a lighthearted side as well, and I kept writing pretty much up until we were ready to record. There are some spontaneous moments that I love when the band really cut loose. I also wanted to record Townes Van Zandt’s Still Lookin’ For You, which we did off the cuff and it ended up fitting in perfectly.”

The album’s rocking side is best displayed on the first single Still Doubt It, with its instantly memorable chorus and swampy groove punctuated by Picco cutting loose on a fuzzed-out guitar solo. But the overall theme of Until Now is best summed up on the title track, which closes out the record. Over a Faces-like loose-limbed backing, Picco sings, “I don’t know if I went wrong, but heaven knows it won’t be long / I never said that I was strong — until now.”

“That song is about hitting the road and moving on, with or without regrets,” Picco says. “This is my seventh album, so I’ve gained lots of experience as a songwriter and recording artist. The last five years in particular have been a pretty creative time for me and I’ve been able to come into my own with help from the people I’ve worked with. I really feel that this is my best batch of songs to date.”

Having paid his dues within the Canadian music scene since the mid-2000s, Picco has merely been biding his time in the shadows of this country’s best singer-songwriters — until now.”