Gossip of Flames
Produced by Nashville’s Lera Lynn,Recorded at Sound Emporium Studios with Engineer Craig Alvin
Brooklyn, NY — Friday, June 18, 2021 — Poignant songwriters carry a brilliance of capturing heart-piercing stories in real-time while reflecting deep-seated emotions and a lust for life that uplifts. Nick Africano‘s poetic storytelling bears unflinching intimacy and releases our imaginations to dream of love’s abundance of emotions.
Gossip of Flames (Release Date: June 18, 2021) is a masterpiece featuring Africano in collaboration with Nashville’s rising star Lera Lynn (as seen on HBO’s True Detective); who serves as the producer and co-writer (7 of the 10 songs) of Gossip of Flames. Gossip of Flames was recorded by GRAMMY Award-winning engineer Craig Alvin (Kacey Musgraves) at Nashville’s Sound Emporium.
Gossip of Flames culls an identity from Walt Whitman‘s “Song of Myself,” though rooted in the life of a performing artist based in Bed Stuy, Brooklyn. In a bout of inspiration to record Gossip of Flames, Africano returned to his Sicilian father’s art studio in the midwestern town of Normal, IL where he grew up playing baseball with lauded artist Pokey LaFarge. The homecoming resulted in a handful of demos sent off to various Nashville producers and co-writers. While on a writing retreat in Music City, Africano met with Lera Lynn and Todd Lombardo as he neared completion of the 10 songs on Gossip of Flames. That chance composing session led to Lynn becoming the producer of Gossip of Flames.
Gossip of Flames spotlights three recording sessions, the first of which includes an array of Nashville musicians. Lera Lynn is in the producer’s chair while co-writing and singing on nearly every track. Craig Alvin engineered the album with Africano performing alongside Todd Lombardo (guitars, keys, slide), Robby Handley (bass), Chris Lippincott (piano, keys, pedal steel), and Jason Cheek (drums). Four songs on Gossip of Flames were engineered by Lombardo and performed/recorded with the trio of him, Africano, and Lynn.
Featured Compositions — Gossip of Flames:
An entrepreneur and expert in sherry wines, Africano journeyed to Granada, Spain as a side trek while on a trip to Jerez to develop his own portfolio of barrel-selected wines (Africano’s premier sherry wine brand BUELAN COMPAÑÍA DE SACAS launches nationally in April 2021). Atop the hillside slopes where Mirador de San Nicolás towers over the city, an outpouring of emotion struck and defined his latest single “Mirador.”
“It was a beautiful moment looking out over the city of Granada, and I just had this overwhelming feeling that Mirador de San Nicolás was keeping us safe,” says Africano. “It was as if Mirador de San Nicolás were a caretaker in a sense. I quickly dug into Saint Nicolas, and devoured the works of Spanish writer Federico Garcia Lorca. This all brings of bit of Spain to an Americana song, ‘Mirador.'”
During the stripped-down trio sessions with Lynn and Lombardo, Africano performed Tracy Chapman‘s “Fast Car.” Her percussive guitar and spoken word delivery spoke truths to his own juxtaposition of sadness and hope, and the idea of trying to be someone. The live, first take of the track emulates a rawness to his vocal that rests upon warm production featuring Lynn on background vocals.
Africano and Lynn’s writing sessions edged on the darker tones of life with snippets of mysterious moments. “Don’t Pass Me By” sways with sultry guitars and a soul-drenched chorus of Lynn backing Africano as he sings, “Now I see inside. Life, don’t pass me by. It’s over in a moment.”
“Somebody Moves You” catches ahold when a companion truly loves you, and all you want to do is return that feeling as deeply as you can. The loss of such a connection is a fleeting experience for Africano as he’s reminded of the fragility of love as he stares into the night sky.
On “Long Nights Noon,” he sings, “I had a one man funeral for my picture book life, burned the pages, tried to erase time. I was in a white wall, everything seemed to fall like a heavy snow. I didn’t know, if I was floating or fighting. If I’d make it through, but you’re a long night’s noon.” The character he portrays ultimately exhales with gratitude and comfort after a long season of desperation.
The late songwriter Felix McTeigue (Florida Georgia Line’s “Anything Goes”) co-wrote “Fire Keepers” in Nashville the day Africano learned his father had a stroke. With a heavy heart, he finished the writing session and rushed back to Normal, IL to be with his family.
The passing of Africano’s mother after a long struggle with breast cancer encapsulates “Heavy to Hold.” Initially sung from the perspective of a mother during her final hours of life in the hospital speaking to her son, he transitions to his own mind to reveal, “there’s no pain like leaving without saying goodbye.” Africano was left devastated learning his mother had passed while he wasn’t by her side. Carrying, and then letting go of the guilt he felt, Africano knows she will always speak to him through the world around him and the beauty she left behind.
Alternating between his viewpoints and those of his father, “Little Boy Lost” takes phrases drawn on the latter’s paintings and life lessons he learned while the two talked at the kitchen table for a sentimental piece he penned for his father. In a fine falsetto, Africano lets go with an expression of rapture. “Cheated My Heart” marries the sounds of Sam Cooke‘s Night Beat with the ephemeral production style of British singer Michael Kiwanuka. Craig Alvin’s ambient soundscapes bring Africano down a desolate country road to proclaim, “you cheated my heart, you tore me apart…empty words felt like heavy rain.”
Gossip of Flames concludes with the demo version of “Lauren Jean” that was recorded at his father’s painting studio (Harbord Sessions). Alone in the studio, the demo is a glimpse into the initial recording sessions and a raw take on a song written from the moment of a spark of new love.
Africano is no stranger to the stages of New York City and country/folk bars across the country as a touring artist. He’s had songs in the films “Southbound” and “Four Corners Road.” Africano celebrates the release of Gossip of Flames with a live performance at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2 on Friday, June 18, 2021. For up to date concert listings, please visit: nickafricano.com
Gossip of Flames
2. Somebody Moves You
3. Don’t Pass Me By
4. Fast Car
5. Long Nights Noon
6. Fire Keepers
7. Heavy to Hold
8. Little Boy Lost
9. Cheated My Heart
10. Lauren Jean (Harbord Sessions – Demo)