Philadelphia musician Joe Michelini, who records as American Trappist and was previously a member of River City Extension, has shared a new single from his forthcoming album The Gate, out on May 15 via Smartt* Records. “The Real Thing” follows previous singles “Independence Day,” “Losing My Grip” and “Pleasure Mtn.” The Gate is the follow-up to his 2016 self-titled debut and 2018’s Tentanda Via.
“The Real Thing” marries warm, synth-y heartland rock with moody, grizzled vocals that border on post-punk. Guitar feedback swirls around his deep vocal timbres, contemplative piano and atmospheric, pirouetting synths. “Would you trade this life to never feel pain / What if love was never like the real thing” Michelini sings, and though the song (and the album at large) asks some of life’s big, dark and unnerving questions, there’s a comforting wisdom in his stony voice.
“‘The Real Thing’ was a missing piece, added late to the album,” Michelini says. Looking at most of what was written, and trying to figure out if there was anything I wanted to say that no other song was saying, I wrote this. The song served such a specific purpose for me emotionally that when the purpose was fulfilled from a writing standpoint, the production was really open ended, it didn’t matter so much. It gave the band an opportunity to breathe, and I felt a little lighter, like I had exorcised something.”
Listen to “The Real Thing” below, and preorder The Gate here.