Old Californio’s last release, the unimaginatively entitled ‘Old Californio Country’, was an album of mostly cover songs, and not particularly good ones at that.
For ‘Metaterranea’, the band’s 6th full length, the ten tunes are all originals written by lead singer and guitarist Rich Dembowski.
They sound like they are on surer ground for what is identified in the opening track (Old Kings Road) as a ”California sound with a Mediterranean soul.”
Dembowski sets out his stall by saying “I wanted to speak truth to what we are, which is we're a kick ass barroom band.” To achieve this goal, he is joined by guest musicians and a core lineup of drummer/vocalist Justin Smith, keyboardist Jon Niemann, bassist Jason Chesney and Paul Lacques on guitar and lap steel.
The track Timeless Things makes it plain that the band are happy to be drifting along rather than being tied to commentary on real world events. A fatalistic acceptance of uncertainty lies at the heart of this song as we humans are described as “divine creatures caught in space and time.”
A chilled philosophy also underpins The Swerve which Dembowski says “speaks to the idea of we are not the centre of the universe, we are particles swerving in a bigger process.”
When they do return to terra firma, the Beatlesque optimism of Destining Again is tempered by the realisation that we may well be travelling on a road to nowhere.
In short, these breezy tunes from the sunshine state come with cloudy intervals and the constant threat of rain.
Listen to Metaterranea on Bandcamp