It’s easy to describe Connor Garvey by his positivity. The singer-songwriter, who writes upbeat, soul-inflected pop, describes his music as “acoustic funky-folk-rock for the good-hearted.” But it’s not simply a matter of blind optimism. Garvey’s real strength lies in his ability to find good in even the grimmest truths, and to sing about them with imagination and eloquence.
Garvey is a master of metaphor. On his newest album, “Meteors and Beating Hearts,” he exercises his writerly skills to their utmost. The second track, “Real Old,” refutes ideas about the supremacy of youth and the morbidity of mortality. “Kerouac can keep his/ Blazing Roman candle/ Those momentary explosions of light,” Garvey sings. “I’d rather be/ What you feel when you see a campfire/ With a long, slow, beautiful burn.”
Garvey does much of his touring alone, just a scruffy, red-bearded fellow and his guitar. But he carries a solo concert with effortless charm. He has a warm stage presence and a direct delivery, along with a clear, nimble voice that blends the naturalness of folk with soul-inflected personality.
“Meteors and Beating Hearts” brings a gentle rock n’ roll sensibility to Garvey’s unvarnished sound. Bass and drums provide heft while fiddle and electric guitar offer shimmering flourishes; the occasional pedal steel embellishment gives a nod to Garvey’s country music forebears. From the tender wistfulness of “Backup Plan,” to the anthemic euphoria of “Meteor,” to the uplifting rhythm of “Bright Morning,” Garvey explores the full breadth of the human soul, while always coming out firmly on the side of joy. His songs are a testament to the notion that it’s always worth trying to feel good.