Pat Simmons Jr. - This Mountain
Pat Simmons Junior brings something of his own everyday life to his musical art. His sense of social justice, commitment to the environment, and concern for his fellow man comes through in each of the six songs on This Mountain. There’s enormous finesse coming through as well. Each of the numbers are cut to an ideal length and Simmons knows when to push certain elements while pulling back on others. His voice comes in at the right places and he reveals himself to be an exemplary singer with a deceptively wide range. The music primarily relies on guitars, largely acoustic, but other instrumentation makes its presence felt on a variety of cuts. This Mountain is an intimate effort, every song is full of that presence that comes with a singer looking to unload their heart, but it clearly looks to communicate as well and does so wonderfully.
“Up and Out by Five” shows Simmons’ ability for taking common conversational speech and stringing it together in a fresh way. It has a decidedly chipper air, much like the idea driving the song, but there’s deeper meanings driving the lyrics here for anyone to discern. Simmons conveys the sentiments with an immensely artful touch. Blues comes to the fore on his track “Rust”. It has a much more downcast musical tone than the first song, but the change isn’t jarring at all as the song embraces many of the same strengths making the preceding track so memorable. It’s admirable how he handles heavier emotions without ever leaving the songs feeling somewhat lopsided. “Mauna Mele” is another example of that talent at work. It probably possesses the ideal length of any song on This Mountain and the immense likeability, thanks to its airiness and tempo, makes it one of the EP’s standout numbers. Simmons stretches out some on the song “How Many Years” and indulges his love for the blues in a more pronounced way, but he never loses his touch despite the extended running time. There’s a strong acoustic guitar presence in the song, existing higher in the mix, and Simmons responds with a perfectly tailored singing job.
“Touch the Ground” is, conversely, the EP’s shortest song. It also shows off more electric guitar, by far, than any of the other songs and the instrument’s presence never seems incongruous. Simmons gives audiences one of his loosest, most charismatic vocals, but it never sparkles with the same presence that he brings to the closer “All The Way”. He throws himself into this jazzier tune with the same upswing to his phrasing that makes the opener so good. It’s a low-key underlining of the EP’s virtues and a great final curtain without ever being too heavy handed about it. This Mountain is about as good of a debut as you could hope for and Patrick Simmons Jr. comes out swinging with a confidence that’s quite impressive.
9 out of 10 stars