Some acknowledged self-doubt made Bill Scorzari hesitant to make his upcoming third album, Now I’m Free, premiering exclusively on Billboard today (Sept. 16).
“It’s hard to explain what was behind that,” the Long Island singer-songwriter tells Billboard. “It’s part of who I am. I’m pretty self-critical. When you’re putting your music out there you want people to enjoy it, and you do want it to be something to be proud of.”
Scorzari admits that a majority of Now I’m Free includes slow songs, which made him hesitant to record the project. As he explains, he was uncertain he wanted to put out an album with that many gradual tempos.
“I wasn’t sure if it was going to get anyone’s attention or if anyone would enjoy listening to it,” he adds. “Then I thought, ‘Well, that’s what I’m doing. It’s kind of what comes out, so why not?’ I pushed through it. I found myself in the studio and was pretty happy.”
The hirsute Scorzari certainly had reason to enjoy the recording process this time around. He made Now I’m Free — due out Sept. 20 — with producer Neilson Hubbard at Skinny Elephant Recording in Inglewood, Tenn., recording mostly live with a band that included American Music Awards nominees Will Kimbrough, Erin Rae, Eamon McLoughin, Michael Rinne and others.
“I wanted it to be pretty…sparse isn’t the right word, but light,” Scorzari explains. “I didn’t want it to be heavily produced or overdone. I thought about doing it just with vocal and acoustic guitar, but we brought in a bunch of really great musicians and they all did their thing on it and everyone wound up on the same page. It came out the way I imagined it would, all on its own, which was pretty amazing.”
Despite his concern about the slow tempos of many of the songs and they’re delicately nuanced and detailed arrangements that dominate the album, Scorzari and company do kick up a bit on the edgy “Steel Wheels” and the smooth, country rock flavor of “Treat Me Kind.” The tempos befit the subject matter, however there’s no particular theme.
“It’s just a bunch of songs I was writing along the way,” Scorzari contends. He does acknowledge that the 15 tracks are personal: drawn from his own and other’s experiences he’s observed. Relationships and self-discovery are touchstones, but he’s reluctant to consign too many specifics to the songs.
“I’m pretty much writing with what’s hitting me at the moment,” Scorzari says. “It’s about figuring out how to deal with certain situations that arrive in your life, and everyone’s lives. I think everyone goes through the same sort of circumstances at one point or another. These feelings are kind of universal — I’ve just taken the time to put them into words.”
And any concern about those many slow songs dissipated when Scorzari started playing them live. “I don’t think I’ve played a show where at least a couple people didn’t start crying — in a good way,” he says. “I think that’s a pretty neat thing, to be able to connect with people that way.”
Scorzari plans to keep doing that with a full slate of touring on the horizon. And with Now I’m Free about to drop, Scorzari sounds like he’s pushed beyond any of the reservations that hampered it and is ready for a fourth album, too.
“I love to write music and love to record it and see how it comes out,” he says. “It’s not so much like, ‘Yeah, I’ve come this far and made my mark.’ Each [album] is just the next thing I do. When I do the next record it’s gonna be pretty much the same thing. I just write because I like to write, and when there’s enough [songs] I put something out. It’s not too complicated, really.”
Listen to Now I’m Free in its entirety below.