Collaboration pays dividends on this impressive debut mainstream americana album.
As you can probably guess, Vinnie Paolizzi, originally from Philadelphia, comes from a large family descended from Italian immigrants, which he says taught him an early lesson in the importance of working with others. He moved to Nashville in 2018 and since then has set about trying to create communities of musicians with various projects, such as his “Fam Jam” in a Nashville dive bar. This gives a space for songwriters to bond with others and learn their craft. You can see this collaborative ethos in the songwriting credits to this album, where Paolizzi has mostly worked with others on the songs.
This is Paolizzi’s first album after his 2021 EP ‘Private Sky’ and comes after he has spent time playing guitar for artists such as country star Brittney Spencer as well as performing his own songs. He is as at home with country music as he is with rock and you can hear this in the impressive songwriting here which is best described as mainstream americana. The album was produced by Old Crow Medicine Show’s Mike Harris, who also plays electric guitar.
Paolizzi starts very well with the excellent single ‘Proud Of What I Did Today’, where he gratifyingly turns his back on the rather, to these British ears, hollow American ideal of “success”: “I’m just working hard to be the best/ Version of what I am/ If I never make a million/ I guess that’s ok”. This has Paolizzi picking acoustic guitar with nice steel guitar in the background.
However, ‘It Ain’t Easy’, written with his great friend Ben Chapman, and ‘As Far As Goodbyes’s Go’ are rockier numbers with the former being a memorable confessional bluesy number with slide guitar that is strongly reminiscent of Chris Stapleton. The latter has a whiff of Springsteen about it. Other tracks, such as ‘Cairo’, ‘Blame It On The Ivy’ and ‘Johnny Was A Baptist’ remind you of Jason Isbell’s more acoustic tracks, such as ‘Alabama Pines’, and Paolizzi’s voice can be similar to Isbell’s.
He mainly discusses relationships in his words but comes sideways to the subject at times, which makes the words more interesting and powerful. ‘Blame It On The Ivy’ links ivy growing and covering a house as a metaphor for old feelings hiding our real selves. In ‘If It Would Only Rain’ it seems that the singer is just writing about the weather until it becomes clear that he wants rain to come to give him an excuse to stay in to grieve his partner leaving. ‘Something We Said’ has a relationship falling apart and the singer wondering “maybe “I love you was” just something we said”, while there is regret at leaving in the catchy ‘Left My Heart Behind’.
The album finishes on a really positive note in the beautiful country-soul of ‘Ahead Of Me’ with lovely lead guitar and Hammond organ coming in later, as it does on other tracks, to complement the sound. Here Paolizzi sings that he has “a few more miles under this hood” and the strength of the songwriting here makes you think that he is very much correct in this statement.