Throughout his career, Bruce Sudano has played every kind of music imaginable. He’s been in numerous rock bands, written hits for Dolly Parton, Donna Summer and Michael Jackson, helmed his own label and toured the globe playing everywhere from family gatherings to sold-out stadiums. Recently, he returned to his roots, releasing a series of albums that fuse folk and classical pop to express the full range of human emotion.
On Spirals. Volume 1...Not A Straight Line To Be Found, he journeys back to his Brooklyn beginnings and forward to his dreams of a peaceful afterlife. His mellow tenor and intricate fingerpicking bring his poetic lyrics to life, with the help of producer Steve Addabbo (Suzanne Vega, Shawn Colvin, Jeff Buckley) and a tight quartet of professional session players.
“Spirals always intrigued me, as a metaphor for life in general, and many situations you encounter,” Sudano says. “You start small, circle out to the widest possible space, then spiral down to the smallest point before vanishing. I write about different aspects of love, life, emotion and loss. I like reflecting on the collision of dreams, memories and reality, looking forward and back, while and trying to stay awake in the moment. All that ties in with the concept of spirals.”
The songs on the record evolved over the past couple of years, as Sudano looked back at the long path he’s traveled. He sings in a warm, expressive tenor that still maintains its flexible range. “I was blessed to play the role of songwriter and be around great singers who could make my words come to life,” Sudano says. “I always sang, but I never carried the load, so my voice never got beaten up. I still have a youthful quality. I was always able to interpret a lyric, but today, I have more freedom with my voice than I had previously.”
Sudano’s voice is at the center of the songs on Spirals. “The Mountain” opens the set with his acoustic picking supported by the subtle rhythms of Mike Visceglia’s bass and Rich Mercurio’s snares. Addabbo’s electric guitar fills and Kenny White’s piano support Sudano’s voice as it slides up to a rich falsetto. “The band give the tune a nice feel,” Sudano observes. “We move from a folk opening, to a rock section, before breaking down to a ballad. It reminds you to keep reaching for the sky, with a lot of musical momentum.”
Twin acoustic guitars, Sudano’s double tracked harmonies and White’s delicate organ fills give “Shelter Island” a pastoral feel. It describes the arrival of new love, after a time of loss and sorrow. “It’s a tender love song, balanced between loneliness and falling in love again, wondering how people survive without anyone to comfort them.”
Youthful dreams collide with present day reality in “Back in the Neighborhood,” a gentle folk rock tune that contrasts Sudano’s memories of Brooklyn with the gentrification that’s going on today. “In the Garden of November” takes a wistful look at family life. Sudano’s vocal harmonies and fingerpicking suggest both Appalachia and Nashville, with White’s B3 and Addabbo’s chiming guitar adding a hint of gospel to the chorus. “In the autumn, dreams and memories collide in midair,” Sudano says. “The Christmas bustle is starting and you’re thinking of the New Year to come. It’s a season of assessment and reflection.”
The album closer, “See You When I Get There,” is a consideration of mortality. Gentle memories of friends and family are reflected in Sudano’s whispered vocals, soulful harmonies and Addabbo’s chiming electric guitar fills. “I wrote this for myself. I didn’t think I’d ever cut it, but a friend said I had to make it public. He told me, ‘A good part of your audience has experienced a loss of some kind, and the song’s honest and beautiful. You should record it.’ So I did.”
Sudano will be touring to support Spirals. Volume 1, as well as working on completing Spirals. Volume 2. He divides his time between New York, LA and Milan, so he has many options for live performances. “I’ve been playing since I was 15 years old, so it’s a core part of who I am. I tour in 10-day clumps, then come back and live my life. Live, I keep it loose, so the musicians can stretch out. I also do some storytelling between songs. Since much of my career was in the shadows, people are not familiar with my story. When I started talking about my life a few years ago, people enjoyed it. All of a sudden, you’re not a stranger singing a song they don't know, you’re part of their lives.
"I want to spread as much light as I can. My goal is to get down to the truth. A song is only complete when I’ve gotten to the truth and it’s palliative and apparent in the song. As long as I’m living, I’ll keep writing, taking what I feel, experience and observe and inserting it into song. That's what I’m about, as well as being a father, grandfather, husband and friend.”
Spirals Vol. 1...Not A Straight Line To Be Found was produced by Steve Addabbo (Shelter Island Studios) and Greg Calbi (Sterling Sound).