Musician Jerry Falzone and lyricist Lou Sweigman crossed paths decades ago while traveling in Nashville. However, the journey to collaboration was much more recent and coincidental. Partly, the partnership was born out of luck and happenstance.
The year prior to connecting with Falzone, Sweigman and musician Paul Nunes had worked together on the “If All Rochester Wrote the Same Song” contest. Nunes was busy the next year, but his friendship with Falzone led Sweigman to think of him as a collaborator instead.
“I don’t know, maybe it was because he was in all those local Ford Commercials around that time. He was such a big shot,” Sweigman jokes while Falzone laughs.
For Falzone, rather than just playing covers, he always loved creating his own style of music. So much, in fact, he was fired from the first two bands he played with before starting his own in the early 2000s. After multiple original albums, and the criticism and “quibbles” over lyrics from his 2017 “Chasing Ghosts,” Falzone began to feel drained.
“It got to the point where I started to feel jaded about it. And then when Lou called me up, I was thinking, ‘Oh great, here’s another lyricist,’” says Falzone. “But I found I was into it way more than I was before, I was rejuvenated. ‘Oh, I don’t have to worry about that part of it now? Great!’”
“And 100 songs later, we’re still here,” Sweigman jokes again, then gets serious. “Since January 1st, I’ve written about 40 songs, so I’m on pace for 80 now. Even in Nashville (working as a lyricist), it was maybe 50 to 60 songs in a year.
“This has been more than a rejuvenation, it’s a rebirth,” he says. “I know they won’t just sit in a notebook.”
Out of that notebook, Sweigman and Falzone came up with a song for the “If All Rochester Wrote the Same Song” contest, “No One Will Ever Know.” That song ended up as just the start of the duo’s creative output, which went on to be Jerry Falzone and Liar’s Moon next album, “Black Sky, Blue Moon.”
“The problem was really narrowing it down. Songs kept coming along and demanding our attention,” Sweigman says about developing the album.
The newest effort has all the mainstay musical qualities from Liar’s Moon: a classic no-frills Americana rock style. The gruff vocals and raucous chorus shouted by band members on “Lost Weekend” feels like it is simultaneously celebrating, mourning and rioting against time wasted. “Eastman Towne,” telling the story of falling in and out of love, unmistakably takes place in Rochester with its Flower City references.
The lyrical depth and cleverness of “Black Sky, Blue Moon” is on display in multiple songs as well. “Eye of Goodbye” combines the philosophical questions presented by the end of a relationship with a metaphor of being in “the eye of a hurricane.” The catchy lines of “Rich Man’s Kitchen” condemn the excesses and greed of wealth: “In a rich man’s kitchen/spoons are made of gold/the silver has banished/tarnished I’ve told.”
The album throws in new elements from the band as well. For example, “Amulet” has an ethereal feeling further elevated by the distinct lilting plucks of a mandolin and the dreamy vocal harmonies.
Falzone says he has a renewed appreciation for the talent of his fellow band members in Liar’s Moon. The process of recording in a studio allowed him to see how the other musicians added and helped develop the sound.
“When you’re playing on stage at performances, you’re not necessarily concentrating on what others are doing, how they’re reacting to what other people are doing,” says Falzone. “When you’re in a sterile recording environment, though, you really can see just how well a group gels together.
“We really take the best of what we all do, take a message that speaks to us, and create something new out of it,” he continues, referring to the collaborative energy he shares with Sweigman. “And neither of us is afraid to say, ‘That isn’t working,’ to the other one because we both have so much experience in this space.”
Through that effort, both the musician and lyricist have plenty of songs left on the table for the future. Falzone says he already has spent studio time with new artists developing songs for the next album.
Along with the new “Black Sky Blue Moon” and other future musical endeavors, both Falzone and Sweigman will be featured artists at the Music Monday series this August. Events like those are some of the reasons the singer loves Rochester even after living in cities with bigger venues.
“We have among the best music in the country, I really mean that. You can go to the dankest little bar in Rochester and see a songwriter that would be huge in Nashville,” Falzone says. “It’s the depth we have here and the community around (music). Liar’s Moon is drawing crowds still; people are dedicated and excited about what we do.”
Jacob Schermerhorn is a Rochester Beacon contributing writer and data journalist. The Beacon welcomes comments and letters from readers who adhere to our comment policy including use of their full, real name. Submissions to the Letters page should be sent to [email protected].