Greg Mendez – Greg Mendez
By Kate Trebra | Top Tracks: Rev. John / Friend, Maria
Philadelphia born-and-raised singer Greg Mendez packs so much life into his tracks that it’s hard not to slip in between them. After writing and reworking his self-titled album for over fifteen years, then taking over a year to record it, 2023 was deemed the year to let self-titled Greg Mendez free into the world. Filled with barely-there drums, acoustic pickings, and soft tones of electric guitar, Greg Mendez is an intimate glimpse into the singer’s past dealing with addiction, crumbling relationships, and the throes of daily life that just about anyone could experience.
“Rev. John / Friend” opens with church-like organs, perhaps a nod to the confessions scattered throughout the lyrics. Mendez sings “Don’t mind if you stay tonight / It’s just another promise you never meant”. The subject of the song is still the object of Mendez’s affection, regardless of whether they keep breaking their promises. Despite the relationship’s inevitable doom, Mendez spins a complex story of life and love with simple instrumentals.
In “Shark’s Mouth”, an extended metaphor for feeling trapped in one’s old house and life, Mendez slowly begins on his guitar. Visiting your father’s house, in his world, is akin to spilling blood in the ocean and being dragged underwater, clamped in the jaws of a shark. “Shark’s Mouth” is lonely, isolating, and a whisper of beauty.
In an album filled with scattered memories, “Maria” is perhaps the most vivid reflection of a past life. “Every time you wanna know me, I get anxious,” Mendez says, a moment of vulnerability in the fear of revealing his true self. He recalls the time he was arrested at a crack den despite being clean that morning, noting how easy it is to slip into old habits.
“Goodbye / Trouble” is the long wait for any kind of sign to change one’s life, drawn out over the squeaks of a hand sliding over a guitar (“I would wait for the son of God / Or any other who could tell me I’m wrong”). The sixth track, “Sweetie”, is a dramatic profession that Mendez will never love again, a lament over sustained keys and the tapping of a drumstick.
While other songs off this album maintain the lightheartedness of someone detached from a past situation, “Best Behavior” is stripped and raw, teeth bared for all to see. Mendez is done with indifference and moving on, noting that whoever he is singing about can see right through him. His soft voice is scathing, his guitar almost bitter in accusing that “[they] can act like it’s all right” (“It’s a lie,” he adds after a thoughtful second).
Greg Mendez paints a picture of hazy, fragmented memories, all immortalized in two-minute long tracks. Mendez’s vivid storytelling abilities guarantee that his self-titled album will stand the test of time. It’s a reminder to cherish the little moments, let go, and move on.
Catch Greg Mendez performing with the Drop Nineteens on October 10th at The Atlantis!