“Cherish the singer-songwriter who knows how to hang when things get dirty. Garrett Pierce writes slow, somber acoustic ballads that are more beautiful than most, but that’s not all he does. Grittier rock numbers such as “Lioness & Lion,” “Tonight,” and “Old Country” show that Pierce can wield a cranked amp with the same deft touch as an acoustic — and that he can squeeze longing out of a dragging rock tempo.
Pierce used to live in S.F., but moved to Davis shortly before the release of his current album, All Masks, to focus on songwriting and to escape what he’s described as the distractions and dark vibes of city life. He almost seems too soft for some of the stories his image-laden, lyric-heavy songs relate. But told through his precious, breathy whine, Pierce’s tales convey every bit of his sensitivity: “I just lay just a door from where we were naked through the dawning/ But you say what you say, say it now, say it loud/ ‘Cuz you’ve got a schedule to keep,” he sings on “Fireworks,” which also includes the line, “My love is a weapon you’re avoiding.”
Pierce is first up on a three-part bill at Rickshaw Stop this Wednesday that includes SF darling Emily Jane White — herself a skilled practitioner of the downbeat ballad. Headlining are the more experimental, minimalist Portland duo of Laura Gibson and Ethan Rose. But Pierce’s songs, which wander gorgeously through both dirt and delicacy, are worth showing up early for.”
– S.F. Weekly, March 30, 2010 By Ian S. Port
“Day Four was possibly the best night of the festival, not necessarily for hard rocking, but for amazing musicianship and a good crowd. Garrett Pierce started off with a truly unplugged set – just him and his guitar ‘cause the microphone hadn’t shown up yet. Though he said he felt naked, and claimed his singing voice was quiet, it rang clear and strong over the crowd, which was impressed by his obvious talent.”
– HEEB Magazine, July 25, 2008
“Garrett Pierce’s debut attests to the old adage that less is more. Like A Moth becomes both haunting and heartbreaking when Pierce’s minimalist arrangements give way to stunningly poetic lyrics: “For inside we’re exploding/ My love is a weapon you’re avoiding.” With help from Jolie Holland, Matt Bauer, and Safa Shokrai, Moth is less a folk album and more a soundtrack to one of those philosophical late nights in a candlelit jazz clubs after two or five cocktails.”
– Jenny Miyaski – SF Guardian Review February 15th, 2006
“Armed with a melancholy songwriting muse and a sweeping vocal range, Pierce comes across as a little untamed, but exhilirating in his willinghness to take unpredictable and wild risks with his songs and performances. Filled with the sort of oblique yet emotionally satisfying wordplay that is reminscent of a Mukrami novel, Pierce’s music may not be particularly uplifting, but it is most certainly encompassing.”
– Metro Santa Cruz Review June 2006
“I wouldn’t have thought Pierce had sending people to sleep as his primary objective when he wrote these songs and released this, his debut album. But his isn’t a criticism, although it may well sound like one.
Pierce’s minimalist arrangements set to his folk poetry on the first couple of tracks don’t make up the whole album. The first couple of tracks are hauntingly beautiful. ‘The Fireworks were Fish Exploding’ and ‘Northern Stare’ set the standards, but not the tone, for the rest of the album.
Some grungy guitar on ‘Old Country’ helps to blow the sleep from your eyes and whilst ‘The Day I Got the Call’ goes back to some simple guitar chords and a lonesome voice, you can hear how this song would transcend with a band in a live setting. ‘All Souls Day’ shows of some great harmonies, although this was recorded on a four track in the Old Turtle House basement. Just goes to show what you can achieve with a simple approach and a great talent.
‘Tumbling Down the Sidewalk’ is probably the weakest track on the album. Why? Don’t know. It’s one of those tracks that just doesn’t connect in the same way as the others.
The first ten times I listened to this album I’d dismissed it as the ramblings of a guy from Burbank who wanted to sound ‘pale and interesting’. But on the eleventh listen this all changed. Sometimes good things do come to those who wait. It isn’t easy to grab listeners with such a minimalist approach, but Pierce manages it. Simply don’t expect to be instantly satiated.”
– Phil Edwards, Americana UK, Monday, May 01, 2006
“Singer/songwriter Garrett Pierce verdomt het om de geijkte paden op te gaan. Voor hem niet altijd eenvoudige melodietjes met refreinen en coupletten. Zijn eerste invloeden waren Joni Mitchell en Van Morrison, artiesten die ook een eigen manier van werken hadden. Toch liggen die invloeden niet op het eerste gehoor voor het oprapen op zijn eerste volledige cd, getiteld Like A Moth (Crossbill Records). Pierce maakt een vorm van moderne desolate folk. Hij krijgt daar op deze plaat hulp bij van enkele bekenden uit de Bay Area. Jolie Holland en Matt Bauer spelen mee op het lang uitgesponnen The Fireworks Were Fish Exploding (huh?). Vaak zuiver akoestisch maar hier en daar komt ook een grommend lage elektrische gitaar om de hoek kijken, zoals in het onheilspellende Old Country. Een trompet bepaalt dan weer het geluid van, wat mij betreft het topnummer van de plaat, Tumbling Down The Sidewalk. Het mixen van deze cd gebeurde door Nigel Pavao die in de avonduren deel uitmaakt van The Last Of The Blacksmiths. Dat verklaart ook de eenvoudige “sound”. Daar moet je van houden, evenals van de niet altijd gemakkelijk in het gehoor liggende stem van Pierce. Ik houd daar toevallig wel van.”
– Hugo Vogel, Alt.Country NL, March 2006
“Independent folk artist Garrett Pierce will celebrate the release of his debut album Like A Moth with a performance at Delta of Venus on Friday. The album is the inaugural release from Davis indie label Crossbill Records, which is run by KDVS 90.3 FM DJ Michael Leahy, who currently books the cafe’s Thursday-Friday night shows. It was through involvement with the cafe that Pierce and Leahy first met. Although Pierce has since relocated to San Francisco, his connection to Leahy and the Davis folk scene they helped to foster prompted the creation of Crossbill to release and promote the singer’s first full-length album, which is support that has helped the artist to book his first West Coast tour. “Crossbill came about through my desire to have more hands-on involvement with the artists I’d been building relationships with,” Leahy said. “Garrett has been instrumental in creating the Delta scene through booking and performing, and this album is a document of that scene that will hopefully get heard on a larger scale.”
While Davis may not have a monolithic indie label connected to it, the town does have a significant history of smaller indies, some of which existed for a single release. Leahy drew on the experiences and knowledge of other KDVS DJs that had run labels in order to inform himself about the logistics of releasing Like A Moth. The term “folk” may conjure for some images of burned-out pseudo activist and bushy salt-and-pepper beards, but Leahy argues for the genres continued relevance and commercial viability, citing the inclusion of Iron and Wine on the Garden State soundtrack and Devendra Banhart’s quasi-pinup status. The biography provided by Crossbill addresses these assumptions, saying the album “is not someone singing about nature in its simplest form. Natural environment does find a way into Garrett’s songs; as the complexity of unanswered questions and chemical imbalances. A world between Tropic of Cancer and In the Aeroplane Over the Sea.”
Pierce himslef expressed discomfort with the “folk” label and its attendant associations. “There are two preconceptions that get under my skin,” Pierce said. “One is that Delta of Venus is purely-folk central when we’ve hosted a range of music, from punk to experimental. The other is that KDVS plays obscure music for the indie elite. The “folk” distinction is collapsing in on iteself, and the involvement of KDVS at Delta should help dispel these notions.”
Leahy knows from firsthand experience organizing live performances both on his own radio show, “Cool As Folk,” and at Delta of Venus that there is a substantial, dedicated local audience for the music. Crossbill, in Leahy’s view, is not a personal but a collective project to support and document the scene. “Delta of Venus owner Lee Walthall, the Mad Cow String Band, the listeners and audiences have all been instrumental in putting the label together,” Leahy said. “They want the music available; they pack the Delta on Thursday and Friday nights for bands they’ve never heard of because there’s a mutual trust we’ve built up. We can take risks others can’t and there’s a real appreciation for that.’
Like A Moth is indeed a substantial release, featuring contributions from folk and rock musicians from Davis and the Bay Area such as the Zim Zims’ Jake Mann, The Drift’s Safa Shokrai, Matt Bauer and Jolie Holland and featuring production from Nigel Pavao of Last of the Blacksmiths. The nine woozy, modest compositions that make up the album seem somewhat slight at first, allowing the listener to drift in and out of the songs as they build up their sun bleached, oddly familiar melodies.
– Folkways, Here We Come: Pierce to release new album at Delta of Venus, Brandon Bussolini, The California Aggie, December 1st, 2005