On Friday, prolific Americana singer-songwriter Clint Niosi will release a new single, and while it still bears the moodiness that defines most of his catalog in noirish tones, it is not all gloom and atmosphere. “Toward the Sun” is a meditation on the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, which, if you think about it, is a hopeful sentiment to hear in the wake of the past six years’ collective, global turmoil and trauma.
This is Niosi’s first release since his fifth album, Panorama Avenue, in December 2020. The song’s subject matter, which Niosi described as being “about moving through darkness to reach something brighter,” is a welcome reminder that despite life’s constant onslaught of fear and despair, there is always a respite waiting for you if you only persevere to the next day.
That Niosi would write such a song seems to indicate a lot of soul-searching after tough times. No matter what side you sit on in the theater of American political and cultural discourse, the ongoing struggles against COVID and the persistent toxicity of the Donald J. Trump administration have left some scars. The past couple of years have led a lot of us to reevaluate our priorities. Niosi has, too.
After releasing Panorama Avenue, he left a longtime job to focus on his music full time, honing his recording techniques at his home studio, Orange Otter Audio. There, he tracked and mixed “Toward the Sun” with longtime collaborators Eddie Dunlap (Rage Out Arkestra) on drums, Matt Hansen (The Boozy Moods) on bass, and Claire Hecko (Frosty) on viola. Jerry Tubb of Terry Nova Mastering put the final touches on the song, and local artist Andrew Hammond Kendall has created a surreal stop-motion video for the song, which will be available on YouTube in the coming weeks.
An agile guitarist and composer with an ear for cinematic flourishes and soundscapes, Niosi has created an oeuvre that runs from wintry, finger-picked folk to dark, Nick Cave-ish rock ’n’ roll, and he even delves into Dick Dale territory with the Chrome Mags, a live band whose reverb-drenched renditions of ’60s surf rock make you feel like you’ve walked into a pulpy detective movie.
“Toward the Sun” is certainly closer to “Pink Moon” than “Pipeline,” but in the way that the Chantays’ classic brings to mind a specific situation (surfing or pretending you’re in a Tarantino movie), Niosi’s new single reminds you of what is now and what is to come.
“It is my hope that every dark night of the soul precedes a brighter morning,” he said.
At the very least, “Toward the Sun” will remind you that the sun always comes up no matter what. — Steve Steward
Contact HearSay at Anthony@FWWeekly.com.