Singer-songwriter albums are excellent for trips into the human psyche—not just of the artist, but also of ourselves. Dusty Pas’cal’s sincere, warm and honest masterpiece, Human Heart, communicates effectively through brutal, yet beautifully transparent lyrics and instrumentation that varies from stark guitar to layers of bass, drums, fiddle, piano, pedal steel, additional vocals and more. It’s crafted to take listeners through jaunty tales of a crazy girl from Kansas City (“The Premonition”) and a man born in Bowling Green, Ky. (“Sammy the Sucker”) or sad, but true circumstances (“Two to Fall”).
Pas’cal is a faithful student of the greats he covers on the album, Kris Kristofferson and Bob Dylan. His wisdom, perhaps partially gained as the father of five, is apparent in songs like “Hot Air Balloons,” which he links to his own father: “I thought of the way he looks at the world and how he overcame every obstacle in his life in order to protect and raise his family,” Pas’cal writes in the liner notes. The lyrics communicate the idea with openness that allows interpretation: “Most people won’t climb high up on rooftops / It’s safer to stay on the ground/ And most eyes they can’t see/ That to climb is to freedom/ As searching is to be found.”
Pas’cal lined up some of the area’s best musicians for this album, including Nick Piccininni, Loren Barrigar, John Dancks, Greg Hoover, John Hannis, Amanda Rogers and Jon Lessels. Also notes Subcat Studios engineer Jeremy Johnston’s important contributions, and Jon Lessels raw energy and emotional presence and additional engineering . Yet Pas’cal is the glue that helped make this perfect project come together. Each song is a gem, from the ear-perking poetic lyrics of “Sundried Heart” to the powerful climax of “40 Mile”. Hang on through the whole album: It’s a trip you want to take.