S.B. singer/songwriter Todd O’Keefe’s new album, Salvador, is a gift basket of homegrown rock treats. The record showcases his music sensibility built over years as a session musician for acts such as Ray Davies, Jeff Beck, Elvis Costello, and Black Francis and with his own band The 88. Across nine songs that evoke folks like power-pop’s Alex Chilton or alt-rock’s REM, O’Keefe shines equally on rockers such as “Salvador” and the string-soaked “Truly.”
Channeling different characters through his lyrics, O’Keefe is on a Quixote-like quest for the good song. On Salvador, he wanders down as-yet-unexplored musical avenues, introducing electric guitar, piano, strings, and drums to a previously stripped-down sound. “I’m just trying to write a good song,” he said of the explorations, “but trying to write is the problem, and not trying is the problem.”
He rejects the ad-ready path of many modern songsters — “just one tone the whole time, trying to con the audience into a fraudulent emotion,” said O’Keefe. Instead, he explores the wideness of the human heart. “No one is comfortable all the time; no one is loving all the time — there’s love and hate, relaxing and uptightness, and expressing that through your art is the key.”
O’Keefe played an album-release show earlier this year at The Red Piano, and though he has no immediate plans to play a show, he’s already at work behind the scenes on new material. Otherwise, he’s simply enjoying the life he wakes up to, spending time with his four-month-old kid and still-growing songs. “Every day I’m taking care of a baby and playing some music. I’m lucky.”
You can hear O’Keefe’s new album attoddokeefe.com/albums/salvador/.