Support Local Journalism. Join Riverfront Times Press Club.

Homespun: Fire Dog 

May These Changes

As two of this city's most tireless purveyors of positivity, Mark Pagano and Celia Shacklett have used their bands to pursue both musical and interpersonal harmony. Pagano leads Fire Dog with his strong, high tenor voice and knack for catchy pop grooves; Celia performs for kids and adults alike under her own name, but here she backs up Pagano on bass and vocals. May These Changes is purportedly a concept album about an Orwellian surveillance state with a "love is the answer" moral, but — thankfully — that structure doesn't impede or overwhelm the solid and goodhearted pop at work on the LP.

Whether or not the "concept" of May These Changes comes through in the lyrics, the album certainly kicks off with a bit of downtempo grandiosity on "Prelude," as the Rats & People Motion Picture Orchestra begin the show with a simple but stirring pattern of Wurlitzer, theremin and ascending strings and horns. Those motifs return on the closing song, an updated version of "May These Changes Make Us Light," and in between those two bookends, Pagano and company stuff the program with strummy, jammy fare like "Future" and "Transformer," two songs that harken the spiritual awakening for the story's hero.

The thread of this concept gets frayed from time to time — "Hellbender" injects a little They Might Be Giants-esque bit of science and ecology on the titular endangered salamander in the course of a fun, geeky two-minute song. Oh, and Canadian folk legend Bruce Cockburn (a friend and tourmate of Celia) literally phones in a voice-over on the two-minute track. Most of these stylistic curveballs work, though Pagano's half-hearted hip-hop verses on "M.A.N." are pretty cringeworthy, even with the electronic textures and bona-fides of Stan Chisholm (a.k.a. 18&Counting). But it's a slight misstep by a band that takes bright-eyed cheerfulness very seriously.

Want your CD to be considered for a review in this space? Send music c/o Riverfront Times, Attn: Homespun, 6358 Delmar Boulevard, Suite 200, St. Louis, Missouri, 63130. E-mail for more information.

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Riverfront Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Riverfront Times Club for as little as $5 a month.

Read the Digital Print Issue

June 9, 2021

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In St. Louis

© 2021 Riverfront Times

Website powered by Foundation