Nick Zanca

American Dreams Releases:


Nick Zanca and I have known each other since we were in our early teens and have always been exactly who we are: high-literary goofballs with very particular, somewhat frantic energies, deep freaks who care about Different Music, laughers mid-cry. In the Great Hall that preserves all “Types of People,” we do not find ourselves easily represented. Our particularities, which are our beauty, have us engage in any close representation of our type with the small, sharp knife of the skeptic. Our particulars, ourselves, desire preservation. We are lucky we found each other.

One night recently, Nick was in the cosmic studio of the mind, reviewing the job description for a songwriter/producer. He noticed something new on that docket – right under “professional looker,” there sat a fine-print requirement: night steward of People Hall, preserver and expander of the capacities of all types, emissary and docent of and beyond all those “Types of People.” Those chuckling gods who make some people crazy enough to become both songwriter and producer require us to expose the virtues of other people. We have to make the specificities of our collaborators and our subjects reverberate, as in a cavernous pantheon with light, reflective walls. It was no longer enough to have perfect ears and lots of technical fluency: Nick, it was decreed, needed to set himself within the Hall as subject and background alike.

Stewarding People Hall is an archival project. It is concerned with the timing of things. I recorded my contribution to Hindsight with Nick on Long Island, playing my archtop in homage to Derek Bailey’s contributions to the timeless David Sylvian record Blemish, a record Nick showed me, that became an aesthetic lodestar for me. Playing referentially in a way called “non-idiomatically”, for a day-one, while thinking of an older record, the wood-paneled hall of reference sang back to us, which is to say, I felt time. That is the other joint responsibility for songwriter and producer alike. To feel time.

Nick tells me that he considers this record as a "producer's songwriter album" in the tradition of Jim O'Rourke, Todd Rundgren, Jon Brion. Hindsight, he said to me, is “something that explores what occurs when turning inward after an extended period of collaboration.” Yes, that is a fantastic alternate or extrapolative definition of that word, but this is not an inward album: it’s an album that calls its listener “my love,” that often beseeches a “we.” It’s an album where the singer sings, “let me be there for you.” The harmony extends a comforting hand, surprising where it grazes. The rhythm shifts, falling asymmetric around the lyrics in a manner recalling Nick’s spiritual forebear, Stephen Sondheim. The orchestration sounds like it is reaching out, too - densely, lightly, Nick’s close friends populate the record, bringing the reality of the past few years of his life into sharp relief. He brings us in, though the specifics of his world could only be his. We see him clearly. It could come from nobody else.

Wendy Eisenberg
April 2024


© American Dreams Records 2021

Subscribe to the American Dreams Newsletter!