By GUY D’ASTOLFO
Singer-songwriter Kenny Greco’s musical evolution hit the second stage this week with the release of his sophomore album, “Chaos, Magic, and the Truth.”
Greco will introduce the new material at a show Saturday night at Inner Circle in Youngstown, and at a string of dates at Bean’s Petri Club in Youngstown and the Backyard Bar in Poland.
The album is available on iTunes. It also can be purchased online at kennygreco.com, at all live shows and at the Boulevard Tavern, 3503 Southern Blvd.
Greco talked about the new album in this exchange:
Q. I could hear your musical influences on the debut album (“No Apologies,” 2010). But on the new album, it seems like you’ve grown into a sound that is more your own.
A. For the first album, I had 38 years to write and get ready for it, so a lot of those songs are 10 to 20 years old. I think what happened on this one is that after I did the last record, I played more live and wrote more, and in that time, kind of found my sound, whatever that may be. And I would be remiss in not mentioning my producer and friend Pete Drivere with helping to find my sound. I record at Ampreon with him always, and I go in with finished songs and an open ear, and he is a big director in the way the music has formed.
Q. With songs such as “Southside Girl” and “Pittsburgh,” you prove to be very much an artist who writes about his own neck of the woods and the people on those familiar streets. What is it about the area that moves you to envision music?
A. I write what I feel and also what I see. Although I am proudly from the Southside [of Youngstown], and that song perfectly describes a Southside girl, it really can be from the south side of anywhere. “Pittsburgh” is all about Pittsburgh. Just a magical city that I had to put into words. That song actually came together in about 20 minutes and was written late in the recording process and was too good to leave out.
Basically, I write what I feel and also what I see of other people and their stories and situations. Where a song like “Second Place” reaches in to that dark part of myself that is nothing but insecurities, pain and loss, to a song like “Promise of the Dream,” which was written about people I know and the struggles they were enduring. But as far as writing about the area, how could I not? Youngstown and even Pittsburgh get slagged a lot, but I could write five albums about this area and its history. It is home. Always will be. And I’m proud of it.
Q. Your cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Youngstown” is totally appropriate. It’s hard to believe, but I don’t know of any other local musicians who covered that song. Talk about your decision to cover it.
A. That was [Drivere’s] idea. He told me to try it. I did, and it worked. I then wanted not only permission but Springsteen’s “blessing,” so I contacted his management and sent an email asking for it and explaining why I was doing the song in the first place. I basically told him that although he wrote it, my family, my history lived those words. Two days went by, and his people contacted me and I got the blessing. I must say — I not only instantly became a 15-year-old kid again, but I could have ended it right there and been content. And to be honest, it feels like my song because I have changed the arrangement from folky and soft to an angry acoustic song.