PREVIEW There’s a bald-faced beauty lurking at the dark heart of San Francisco singer-songwriter Garrett Pierce’s All Masks (Crossbill). The album, Pierce’s second, glimmers quietly, gorgeously from a luminous remove: the performer wrote many of its numbers after traveling for months in Italy and Greece, visiting the power centers and ritual spaces devoted to the gods that pull the strings in Pierce’s beloved myths. After passing through the hands of Pierce and his collaborators Jake Mann, Jen Grady and Carey Lamprecht (Emily Jane White Band), and Tim Wright (Wilderness) the tracks on All Masks ended up revolving around the what Pierce calls a "self-exploration" of his dark side. "Some are brutally honest about shortcomings," the 28-year-old explains by phone from Davis, where he’s visiting his girlfriend and partaking in kombucha and wine. "As a songwriter, I err on the therapeutic side. I love all kinds of music, and I’ve played music that has had nothing personal involved. But for me, songwriting kind of gets me through without having to pay for therapy. If there’s a thread between these songs, it’s the exploration of the more upsetting images in my head."
Of course, mythic creatures slither to the fore, as they do on "Adam" in the form of the Garden of Eden’s snake. "I had this idea that Adam and him were friends and kicking it for a while, then the snake got axed and had this spiritual awakening on his death bed," Pierce says. "Every song has its own little life that way I give them happier endings or a spiritual conclusion of sorts." Why? "That’s what I’m hoping for in my own life and hoping for in my songs."
GARRETT PIERCE With Conspiracy of Venus and Devotionals. Wed/3, 8 p.m., $10. Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell, SF. (415) 861-2011, www.rickshawstop.com