SINGER-SONGWRITER BRUCE SUDANO PURSUES PROLIFIC PATH ON ODE TO A NIGHTINGALE, DUE OCTOBER 1 FROM PURPLE HEART RECORDING CO.
Musician’s Third EP Since Pandemic’s Onset Muses Melodically on Matters Political, Spiritual, and Romantic
Bruce Sudano returns on October 1st, 2021 with a fresh offering of dispatches from the heart on his latest EP of new original songs, Ode to a Nightingale, to be released on his own Purple Heart Recording Co.
The new record succeeds a pair of equally immediate, thoughtful, and urgent mini-albums issued in 2020. Released last April, Spirals Vol. 1: Not a Straight Line to Be Found was praised by Americana Highways for its “five moving songs about life, love and death that captivate and hold the listener’s attention.” Sudano’s October 2020 release Spirals Vol. 2: Time and the Space In Between garnered a four-star review from American Songwriter, with freelance writer/author Lee Zimmerman noting, “Sudano’s found himself on a steady roll.”
Noted for his songwriting for Dolly Parton, Michael Jackson, and Donna Summer and his own hits with the band Brooklyn Dreams, Sudano has established a burgeoning reputation in his own right. Fittingly, his latest release began with solo sessions at his home studio in Milan, Italy.
“I live half my life there,” says Sudano, who also maintains a home in Los Angeles. “I basically walked in my studio, did all the vocals and acoustic guitar, and then e-mailed it all over to my producer Randy Ray Mitchell in L.A., and he put guitars and bass on. Depending on the song, we employed who we thought would be the appropriate drummer.”
He says that for the new record, “I delved more and more into my harmony thing – I came out of a tradition of harmonies in Brooklyn Dreams, and growing up in Brooklyn at the end of the doo-wop era. The ability to do harmonies, to create harmonies, is a gift that I’ve kind of ignored in this evolution of myself as a solo singer-songwriter.”
The song “Ode to a Nightingale” – derived not from John Keats’ 1819 romantic poem, but from imagery in the work of Italian poet and filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini – was written in the aftermath of the 2020 election, and draws on the same political charge that powered “The Mountain” on Spirals Vol. 1 and “American Sunset” and “For the Sake of Humanity” on Spirals Vol. 2. He says, “I see the nightingale as a voice in the darkness, hopefully singing beautiful melodies that are leading us out of the darkness and into the dawn and the light of a new day.”
Likewise, in the set-closing “All Hands” he cautions against complacency: “We can’t let our guard down. We have to be vigilant, because we’re certainly treading a very fine line in our country.”
The dream-like song “In Shadowland” – which is being launched by a vision-infused video directed by Furio Ganz, with striking visual effects by Claudio Bellini – shouldn’t be pinned down by any definitive interpretation, the writer says.
“I decided that I’m not going to describe that song, because it’s an illusion – it’s an illusion lyrically, it’s an illusion sonically, and it’s an illusion visually when you see the video. Everybody who has heard the song or seen the video so far has had their own interpretations of what is being said. If you’re sensitive enough to listen to your inner spirit, your inner voice, it’s this whole world of shadows.”
While there is no shortage of serious and introspective material on Ode to a Nightingale, Sudano adds, “I didn’t want this record to be as heavy and dark as some of the things I’d been writing in the past. I’ve transitioned through a lot of loss, and I wrote a lot about that. I wanted this record to be a little light, and I wanted to revisit the vocal side of things. I wanted it to have more of a pop element to it.”
The bouncing, blissful “Do Be Do (Daytrippin’)” was inspired by the time he spent with his wife Francesca, whom he married in February 2020, in the months after the pandemic hit. “There’s a bit of escapism going on in that lyric,” he says. “There’s the reality of what’s going on in the world, the fears and the doubts that we all have -- but right now we’re just tripping and enjoying each other’s company, and not taking it all too seriously. For right now, we’re having a good time.”
The vicissitudes of romance are also considered in “Fatal Love” (Sudano notes, “When love is real and right, it just stops you in your tracks, and there’s really no escape. And at the same time, it brings you into a new life.”) and “Not Your Hero” (he says, “I was confident when I was writing this song that there would be a lot of people who would relate to the situation – we all have those exes that hang on, and there comes a time when you have to make that break.”)
The album lifts off with the jubilant, soaring “Cosmic Ride,” which Sudano admits will immediately strike a familiar chord with fans of a certain fabled rock act: “Randy and I both have an affection for the Traveling Wilburys and the production style of Jeff Lynne. With ‘Cosmic Ride,’ we both thought this song would work well in that vein – let’s see what would happen if we tried it that way. It was not by mistake, it was by intention. It came out of complete love and appreciation for that style and sound.”
In all, Bruce Sudano views Ode to a Nightingale as an excellent summation of his musical capabilities’ breadth: “I tend to write five kinds of songs – a philosophical song, a spiritual song, a love song, a social consciousness song, or a story song. As I look back on this record, I think, OK, you hit all the points, all the kinds of songs that you would write.”