Undoubtedly David Pajo has gone through some very difficult situations and he has been challenged by some really dark moments in his life. The man behind the Papa M moniker who has played an important part in the recent history of alternative music, whether that is with his solo offerings or by being a part of the archetypal post-rock group, Slint, or with his collaborations with some very important acts like Bonnie Prince Billy, The For Carnation, Tortoise and Interpol among others, David Pajo has just released Highway Songs on Drag City and he continues his passing through alternative rock history with subtlety and finesse.
David hadn't released anything under the Papa M byname since 2004 when the last in a series of numbered EPs came out, as well as his compilation of early recordings, Hole of Burning Alms. From then until 2009 his solo recordings were released simply as Pajo.
Highway Songs was recorded at David's home while he was recovering from a motorcycle accident in which he injured his leg very badly, having him detained in a chair for a while. The album reflects the pain and suffering, not only that of a beat up/nearly amputated leg, but also specks and traces of his suicide attempt that almost cost him his life back in 2015. So, as expected, the new LP sounds dark, it sounds weary and cloudy and everything that you would predict from a Papa M record in 2016, but it is not a downer or a depressing - in the hopeless sense of the word - piece of work, instead Highway Songs comes out as strong, bittersweetly melancholic and - in the end - fairly optimistic, just as strong as David has come out of his misfortunes.
Listen to the lo-fi richness of the first single, Walking On Coronado, and watch the moderately sunny music video for the electrifying Bloom, directed by Kansas Bowling, through the players below.