Folk-rocker Fiumano bares his soul

Anthony Fiumano decided he was going into the studio to record an album. He had enough material, he had the drive and had more than enough experience from performing live. But that was a year ago.

“It took some time to make this record. Definitely longer than I anticipated at first … We were spacing out the recording sessions throughout most of the process, sometimes by as much as a month,” the New Jersey native said of the delay via email.

“I didn’t want my gigging schedule to slow down either just because I was making this record . so that limited the amount of time that I could afford to be in the studio,” he added.

But the wait was worth it. On July 26, Fiumano released his studio debut, “When Strangers Say Hello.” The album consists of material Fiumano compiled over the years on his own and with the band that plays and tours with him, the Medicine Chest.

According to Fiumano, the protracted recording process made for a more relaxed atmosphere in the studio. He also said the studio’s casual setting was a contributing factor to the record’s success.

“We made (the record) in a basement, so even though it was technically a studio, we didn’t feel the stress that sometimes comes along going into a big recording facility,” he said.

Fiumano’s inspirations are not purely musical, but include authors like Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Edgar Allan Poe. His songwriting process varies from song to song and is not as regimented as that of many artists.

“Typically, I’ll finish the music for a song, then I’ll finish the lyrics and look back on it and get the ‘idea’ for the song, so to speak,” Fiumano said. “A lot of times I have no idea what my songs are about until they’re done or almost done, because I don’t force myself to stick to some outline with my content . Sometimes I’ll think of a title and then write a whole song around that.”

His lyrics are introspective and diverse, but a specific theme, according to Fiumano, seemed to take over “When Strangers Say Hello.”

“I realized when I put the record out that this ‘searching for acceptance’ theme pops up throughout it,” Fiumano said. “I don’t mean acceptance in the social sense necessarily, it’s more of a search for somewhere or something that puts you at peace. It’s ironic because I never really noticed it in most of the songs until I put them all together. I think it’s very relatable though, everyone goes through that in life.”

“When Strangers Say Hello” is folk- rock at its finest. The record’s lyrical style and easy guitar rhythm suggest Bob Dylan and other artists. But the crackling intensity of emotion conveyed in each song is reminiscent of recent emotive artists like Conor Oberst, though Fiumano’s voice is clear and true, unlike the Bright Eyes singer’s.

Songs like “Lucky Numbers” and “Restless” are backed by acoustic guitars and have a slow, melodic quality. Other tracks, like “Myths and Strings,” evoke a heavier sound Fiumano is just beginning to explore. His favorite song on the record (which is also his favorite to play live), “Darlene” is a lullaby with bite.

Overall, “When Strangers Say Hello” is a cohesive effort reminding listeners why folk-rock can be an amazing musical experience. If more musicians embraced their inner Fiumano, the world would be a more expressive and meaningful place.