Fearless, 2006

REVIEW BY: Paul Hanson


This is how Bigwig became my favorite band and why I chose this disc to be my 200th review for the Daily Vault.

A decade ago, when I began writing for this site, California-based Fearless Records sent me a promo of New Jersey-based Bigwig's UnMerry Melodies. It was one of the first promos I ever received and one of my first reviews on this site. Re-reading that review, I remember what it sounded like to hear punk that was not Green Day or the Offspring. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Over the years, with each of their releases, I have always been nervous while holding the CD case in my hand, not wanting to hate this band. Flashbacks of how disappointed I was with Dokken's Shadowlife came to mind. With Reclamation, mainstay guitarist/vocalist Tom Petta retains his role as primary songwriter and voice for this band. As it was with UnMerry Melodies and its follow-ups, Petta has a lot to say, and I'm happy to report that this is just as good, if not better, than previous outings.

Bigwig's lineup always seems to be shifting, as does Petta's lyrical outlook. Where before he tackled relationships, road traveling and awakening to the world, here he descends into a glorious and rather angry maturation. Petta sees the world with skeptisism, such as in "Owned and Operated," when he declares "You're settling the score / Predation of the poor / what are we fighting for?" He recollects going on tour when he sings in "Last Song, Last Call" that "Jersey in my rearview is always a bittersweet sight / 20 hour drive with eight and the gear is packed tight," while the music itself recalls the band's earlier days, with a driving rhythm section and guitars that wouldn't sound out of place on a ska song.

It should be noted that Reclamation is the first album in five years from the band, which is not unheard of these days but certainly gave fans like me concern that nothing else would see the light of day. Fortunately, this one is well worth the wait, featuring not only the aforementioned mature lyrics but a sense of urgency that permeates even the slower songs.

Petta's songwriting has matured and become more compelling with each release, and it's been rewarding to follow them. Here's hoping that it doesn't take another five years for a new album, and that in another 10 years I'll be reviewing another Bigwig disc.

Rating: A

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2007 Paul Hanson and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Fearless, and is used for informational purposes only.