Joe Pernice has been writing for a long time—most of his life, in fact—and has crafted a remarkable catalog that boldly reinterprets and recasts classic American pop. Who Will You Believemay be his most moving and nuanced album yet; it’s certainly his timeliest. “These songs were all written during the same time period,” he says, “and they all seemed to tap into a mood I was in at the time. I go through spells where I’m a certain way for three or four months. I might be more reticent than usual, or more outgoing. With all of my records—and especially with this one—the songs all feel like they belong together, probably because they all arrived during the same stretch of time.”
In a single six-month stretch he was left reeling from the deaths of three close friends, including David Berman, poet and songwriter for Silver Jews and Purple Mountains, and Gary Stewart, the Rhino Records co-founder and tireless Pernice Brothers supporter since their first album in 1998. “That was such a bad patch when David and Gary both took their own lives. And my cousin Joe Harvard, who started Fort Apache Studios in Boston and was like a brother to me—he died, too. It was such a tough year. I was thinking about them a lot and watching how divided America had become. I was doing my best to try and take nothing for granted.”
Pernice has been releasing albums for over 25 years. And with age comes a greater patience and an immense ap-preciation for the act of creation. Who Will You Believe showcases a beautiful balance between such sadness and moments of solemnity with warm humor and camaraderie.