Singer Zach Caruso confesses that he’s going through a transition. No longer feeling and thinking like the young musician who began his career playing punk music ten years ago, Caruso says wisdom and maturity inspired his fifth album release, Afternoons with Miss Jones.
“Lyrically and theme wise, a lot of the songs came from my getting older. I’m a 29-year-old guy now, and my perspective on things has changed. The idea of love, heartbreak, disappointment, and success has more of a broad scope in my life,” he says. “When I started writing, it wasn’t so much about one moment or one event, but how I was dealing with all of that stuff. It was interesting to write these songs and see that I’ve grown as a songwriter. It’s no longer, ‘poor me; my heart’s broken.’”
Deeply influenced by rock, blues, and R&B, Caruso says he wanted the album to have a classic, old school soul feeling. “I’m a fan of Donny Hathaway, Sam Cooke, James Brown and Al Green, and I’ve started to appreciate that sound more. When I began to piece the songs together that I wanted to record, I had a lot of that in mind.”
Caruso says that when writing songs he uses lyrics to express his feelings and process his emotions, as evidenced in “Church,” a song he confesses was the most difficult to write. “I know that the best way that I am going to be able to exercise these demons or whatever I’m going through is just to sit with a pencil, paper, and guitar and start jotting down ideas,” he adds. “I get it all out and piece it into something that tells a story.”
As he explains it, the story behind “Church” was a theme that evolved into the memory of a personal relationship that had a profound effect on his life. “I had no idea what the song was going to be. I came up with the idea for the chorus and realized that I was writing about a girl from my past,” he shares. “She saved me a little bit and helped me through a rough time in my life. Even though it was a short period, I liken it to what I assumed a religious person would feel in those moments of spirituality when impacted by something bigger than they are.”
The catchy single “If Only, Anna” is Caruso’s ode to his celebrity crush Anna Kendrick, whose heart the singer wouldn’t mind stealing, though he confesses that his girlfriend might not be so happy about it. “I had a conversation with my girlfriend the other day, and she was joking around and said, ‘it makes me a little nervous, what if she calls you and you leave me?’ And I said you have nothing to worry about if she calls me, I will absolutely leave you, so don’t even think about it,” he recalls laughing. All kidding aside, Caruso says he would be quite happy just to get the Pitch Perfect star’s attention. “That’s my hope; I keep putting it out there, and hope that she gets so annoyed that I wrote a song about her that she calls me to tell me to quit it. That would still make my day.”
Until that day comes, Caruso is determined to pursue his passion, though he admits that it’s tough making it big in the music industry. He says receiving advice from other musicians keeps him inspired; “I asked Marc Broussard, ‘what is the best advice you can give someone like me who’s still at it after all these years trying to make this a sustainable career?’ He said, ‘if you knock on doors long enough, sooner or later they’re going to have to let you in.’ That was something that just stuck with me, and that’s what I’m going to do. I might not have to jump in a van and tour, but I’ll just keep pounding the pavement every day. At some point, something’s got to happen.” Here’s hoping that something might include that call from Anna.
Afternoons with Miss Jones releases May 31st. For more details about Caruso and his latest album, visit zachcaruso.com or check him out on Facebook.
Hero (Top) Feature Image (& Additional Image): © Gary Joseph