Fuzzy and thumpy and semi-discordant, “For the One” is kind of cute in spite of itself. Let’s begin with Van Pierszalowski’s somewhat strangled, not-always-exactly-on-key tenor, which for all its shortcomings also has impressive presence and charisma. I’m not at all sure what separates voices that veer off key but remain somehow true from those that are simply off key and please stop singing, but Pierszalowski falls clearly in the former category, to me. His case is assisted by the vocal company he keeps, whether it’s him layered and multi-tracked or some other folk doing the honors; the various wordless background vocals that warble in the background above the lead singing add texture and character and an odd kind of cuddliness to the proceedings.
And then there’s the crunchy guitar sound. Pierszalowski’s type of precarious tenor goes oh so naturally with heavy, crunchy guitar. Maybe Neil Young has just conditioned us to believe this. Or maybe I could come up with an impromptu theory about how our ear takes in that high and unstable voice and requires something deep and heavy and grounded to counterbalance it, to allow us to feel that all is still okay with the world. These are some deep and heavy and grounded guitars, in any case. And don’t miss what may be the one of the longer one-note solos in rock’n’roll history, from 2:24 through the end of the song. Not a solo in the sense of always being front and center, but you can hear this one note on one particular guitar all 35 seconds or so; it’s the note that eventually ends the song. (An E, if you must know.)
Pierszalowski was last seen around these parts as front man for the band Port O’Brien, featured here in 2009. Port O’Brien split in 2010; Waters is a solo project that coalesced for Pierszalowski while finding himself in Oslo, where he seems to have settled for the time being. He grew up on the California coast, and spent some formative summers in Alaska, and at this point seems to have a life story impossible to trace with any geographical certainty. “For the One” is the opening song on the debut Waters album, Out in the Light, coming out in September on TBD Records.