It has taken Lynn resident and Americana musician Nick Zaino a bit longer than most to release his first full-length album, Blue Skies and Broken Arrows, which will be available on iTunes, CD Baby, and elsewhere March 3rd. He has been playing around Boston for more than a decade, honing his skills as a writer and performer before stepping into the studio.
“I think if I’d made this album five or ten years ago, it wouldn’t have been as good,” he says. “I didn’t take so much time on purpose, but it worked out.”
The oldest song on the album is “Bruises,” written in 1999, and the title track was only a few months old when recording began in early 2014. They range from silly (“She Makes Me Want To Believe,” “Giant Ant In the Sky”) to serious (“One True Friend,” “Your Sweet Memory”) from the sparseness of the title track to the full-band rock of “Live Through You” and “Everybody Wants To Mess With Me.”
“I wanted the whole thing to fit together, but to change a bit from track to track,” says Zaino. “Some of my favorite albums are hard to categorize as any particular style. And I also think you can be funny and earnest at the same time. One helps the other.”
Originally intended to be a home-recorded, one-man band project, Zaino overcame a bit of shyness and got some talented friends to join him for some loose, spirited sessions at Moontower Recording Studio in Somerville. Keyboardist Nick D’Amico, and multi-instrumentalists Chris Harvey and Sean Cahalin played together live on four tracks. Paul Hansen of The Grownup Noise played guitar on “Bruises” and sang on the duet, “One True Friend.” Guitarist and songwriter Jon Waterman played clarinet and singer/songwriter Liz DeBiase played organ on “Hello, Moon.” Ace guitarist Domenic Frizzi played electric guitar on “I Love You and I’m Glad That You’re Gone.” Singer/songwriter Joe Kowan added some spacey saw work to “Giant Ant In the Sky.” And Singer/songwriter Melissa Morris provided background vocals and shared producing duties.
“Every one of them made this album better and changed the songs they played on in some way,” says Zaino. “I prepared like a madman for this. I made at least one demo for everything, playing all of the instruments and trying to communicate what I wanted. But everyone played what they felt, which ended up better than me dictating to them.”
One song, “The Good News,” was recorded as a sing-along at the Walnut Street Café in Lynn, Zaino’s homebase. That was the first place the song was played in front of people, and a regular testing ground for new material. “The song was made for people to sing at the top of their lungs, maybe swinging a beer mug with their friends,” he says. “It was a natural to do it for the people who had heard the song the most. It gave me the best chance at them remembering the lyrics.”
Zaino will be playing material from the new album at the Walnut Street Café in Lynn on March 14, with friends and contributors Jon Waterman and Joe Kowan.