Nicholas Altobelli

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Bio

Optimism is not a word usually associated with a Nicholas Altobelli album. However, if you look hard enough, there are faint streaks of light all through his collection of new songs entitled Searching Through That Minor Key.

Shortly before the release of the 2013 acclaimed album, Without a Home, which was praised by No Depression as “pop perfection,” Altobelli quietly entered the... more

Optimism is not a word usually associated with a Nicholas Altobelli album. However, if you look hard enough, there are faint streaks of light all through his collection of new songs entitled Searching Through That Minor Key.

Shortly before the release of the 2013 acclaimed album, Without a Home, which was praised by No Depression as “pop perfection,” Altobelli quietly entered the studio to work on new music. “I went in with no plans to make another album. I just wanted to hoard as many songs as I could for my song vault and release them many years later if at all,” Altobelli recalls. However, it was quite clear early on that there was something special going on.

Once again, Salim Nourallah (Old 97’s, Rhett Miller) was at the reigns guiding an all-star lineup of Texas musicians that included John Dufilho (Deathray Davies), Joe Reyes (Grammy winner), Paul Slavens, Chris Holt (Sorta), Laura Scarborough, Rahim Quazi and many others.

By the time Halloween of 2013 arrived, the album was 85% finished and was on pace for a second quarter 2014 release. However, Altobelli was confronted with growing troubles at home.

“My marriage was crumbling and there was nothing I could do. The only thing I could do was put the album on hold indefinitely,” he says. “And being the dedicated, or overly obsessed, songwriter I am, I began to write new music and that’s where the Mesocyclone EP materialized.”

Mesocyclone was recorded during the hiatus from Searching Through That Minor Key during the winter of 2013/2014. The EP was released in August of 2014 to acclaim. Exclaim! Magazine in Canada called it “Americana roots perfection” and the EP also garnered local praise in North Texas.

After Mesocyclone, Altobelli almost decided to scrap the unfinished album. “There was a point where I didn’t know if I connected with these songs,” he says. “I’m used to writing about my inner turmoil with nothing but darkness. However, these songs had faint glows of optimism and it felt foreign to me.”

The light he references can be found subtly throughout the album. The lead single, “Sarah,” reminisces about a high school crush, “Dogwood” embraces a life path and decision, and “In The Morning” begins with the hopeful lyric, “Death may come a little too close/But I will feel alive in the morning.”

While there is a hopeful light to a majority of the songs, this would not be a Nicholas Altobelli album without some darkness. “Painted Aeroplanes” tackles the death of his grandfather, “Alabaster” narrates the story of a recently passed individual pleading with his survived lover to find new love, and “Pile of Leaves” is a journey through an autumn afterlife in search for an eternal home.

One of the most peculiar songs of Altobelli’s catalog can be found on this album. “Metal Tree” (the only song on the album in a minor key) tells the story of two astronauts whose love for each other is eroding while they struggle to live on the moon’s desolate surface. “This song has been in my back pocket for a long time, waiting to be released,” Altobelli explains. “I have no idea where this song came from. It is one of those that falls in your lap like a feather. If you don’t grab it quickly, it will blow away and be lost forever, or end up on someone else’s lap. I was lucky and snatched it up before anyone noticed.”

Certainly it is the most varied collection of songs Nicholas Altobelli has recorded, with both light and shade well represented. The search through that minor key will probably never be over but for this trip, Altobelli has made some important discoveries.

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