With his third album, Now I’m Free, New York-based singer-songwriter Bill Scorzari transcends titles like songwriter or poet. He catapults past categories into a dark, ruminative, and ultimately life-affirming realm where family folklore, memories, pain, prayer, and incantation meet.
Throughout 15 originals, recorded live in the studio, Scorzari’s uncluttered arrangements leave space for Will Kimbrough’s and Juan Solorzano’s radiating electric, slide and lap steel guitars, Scorzari’s cycling acoustics, and producer Neilson Hubbard’s scampering drums. Threading through it all are Scorzari’s gentle, gravelly vocals, which dovetail from rhythmic couplets to the rambling idioms of conversation.
Scorzari’s cantering acoustic and Solorzano’s sighing pedal steel entwine in “Over Again,” which documents the exhausting effort it takes to process pain. Similarly, “New Mexico” presents a stream-of-consciousness travelogue through barren lands that serves as a metaphor for acceptance and understanding. Erin Rae’s vocal harmonies flutter in free-fall on “One More Time,” a doppelganger to Scorzari’s soulful sandpaper croon in a paean to the power of self-healing.
Recorded in an unrehearsed first take, the 11-minute “Yes I Am” is a poetic, conversational, and soul-wrenching quest. Riding atop his whirlpooling cross-picking, Scorzari sets images of nature—like the touch of an ancient tree’s rough bark and dragonflies darting in the wind—next to the self-deprecating humor of casting himself as a punch-drunk superman, in a rumination about finding meaning in the enigma of existence. By journey’s end, it is clear that you can’t appreciate the moonlight without accepting the darkness that surrounds it.
This article originally appeared in the March/April 2020 issue of Acoustic Guitar magazine.