Album Review: Nick Santino – Big Skies

Alternative rocker/country singer-songwriter Nick Santino has been creating catchy, lyric-driven songs since 2006. As the frontman of alt rock band A Rocket To The Moon, Santino was a part of seven studio albums/EP’s, and when the band broke up last year, he released two country-influenced EP’s as Nick Santino & The Northern Wind. This May, Santino released his first solo, full length album, Big Skies, and it incorporates all of the sounds with which he has been experimenting for the past eight years.

The album opens with “Bad Taste,” which features a clean electric guitar and Santino’s vocals, building with the kick drum and the line “You said only love could save me, so where is it now?” By the time the second chorus crashes in with full drums, the song is a summer jam full of acoustic guitars and soothing melodies. The bridge, however, is the highlight of the track as everything drops out except for the guitar and Santino’s vocals, close up on the mic, almost talking.

The album as a whole is saturated with a casual folk vibe that makes you feel like you’re sitting in the recording studio with Santino. The songs even have background noises from the studio such muffled talking/laughter during the guitar solo in “Long Way Home.” And the song “Gone Like Yesterday” ends with Santino laughing and saying, “Something like that,” in reference to his performance of the song.

Can’t Say I Miss You” is the second track on the album, and its production keeps with the bright, summery feel of the record. The lyrics, however, are the standout aspect of the song, especially during the acoustic breakdown towards the end when Santino sings, “I can’t say I miss you, I guess I just couldn’t find my way around/and all the hotel nights that I spent picking up my ego off the ground/but nowadays I’m better off just staying in my little empty town.”

In addition to having that hipster, indie vibe, the album is radio ready with songs like “Jackson Browne.” The song is reminiscent of Taylor Swift’s “Tim McGraw” as it builds from acoustic track to power ballad, closing the chorus with the line, “She was standing in the doorway when she said, ‘You know I love you, and I’ll always think about the time we danced to Jackson Browne.’” The track features the strong lyrics and the sparse arrangement that created the foundation for Jackson Browne’s “Jamaica Say You Will” from his own debut, but it also keeps with Big Skies’s intimacy as Santino’s vocals come in raw with creaking studio noise bleeding through.

“Long Way Home” is the other standout track on the album. With a B-3 sounding intro and a chorus that breaks down to “la da da da da,” it’s hard for the song not to get stuck in your head. The guitar takes the melody of the chorus during the instrumental interludes, and by the time the four minutes have passed, you will be singing “la da da da da” and laughing along with the studio noise at the end of the track.

With his solo album, Santino makes each track feel like a few minutes in his life. Between the raw vocals, the background sounds, and the acoustic guitars, Big Skies makes you feel like you’re chilling in the studio while Santino is singing. But this album definitely feels like one that should be taken outside, so turn your face towards the sun and enjoy the Big Skies.

1 Comment

  1. Samantha Sweeney

    July 15, 2014 at 8:30 am

    I really don’t usually like country but this is actually good.

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