Of all the bands I've had the pleasure of catching live around the city, I can't think of a single one that performs with as much of a sense of family as Rego. Songwriter Rebecca Rego and her accompanying players seem as comfortable on stage as they might be jamming in their own living rooms. They play off of each other with the kind of love and humor that even radiates into their official recordings. There's a spark there that the studio process can't even begin to subdue.
On their sophomore LP, Rego pours their alt-country songcraft into a space that's simultaneously warmer and more melancholy. Throughout Seconds, the band suspends a balance between a folksy bucolic hush and raw rock grit. But even at its angriest, Seconds remains fiercely introspective, often to the point of self-flagellation. Wistful bell lines and Neil Young-style alarm clock guitar blasts both punctuate laments of self-sabotage, the bewildering passing of time, and the destructive personal ruts we tend to dig ourselves into as we grow older.
Rego doesn't mind tackling the tough stuff lyrically, spelling out bare pathos in so many words as "when they ask why you do the things you do, you say it's mostly cause it's the only thing you tried." Despite its gilded instrumentation--chirpy guitars and tinkling percussion and deep warm bass--Seconds delves into some bitter places. Like Neil Young, Rego hits both the gentle acoustic strums and the fiery country stomps with the same emotional tones. Even when the record sheds its twang for a classic rock jangle on "Red Eye," it mostly serves to enhance the softer points, the subdued darkness wrapped up inside tracks like "Curse Myself" and "Light." Frustration and resignation stem from the same place here, revolving around each other and providing a sense of relief every time one gives way to its counterpart. But the record does resolve itself on a note of determination, branching out onto a third affect for closer "I Don't Know." Picking yourself up out of the bad parts is mostly just learning to "laugh at rain and hope for sun again"--and that's exactly where this record's journey leaves us.
Rego will be releasing Seconds at Lincoln Hall on February 11th.