Monica Rizzio: Sunshine Is Free
Monica Rizzio is set to release her sophomore solo album, Sunshine Is Free, on October 4th, 2019. The album was produced by Michael Rinne (Kelsey Waldon, Erin Rae, Caroline Spence), and was recorded over a week’s time in April of 2019 at Skinny Elephant Recording. Sunshine Is Free features a stacked lineup of guest musicians, Mindy Smith, Maya de Vitry, Joe Pisapia (Guster), Gwen Sebastian (Miranda Lambert), Will Kimbrough (Emmylou Harris, Rodney Crowell), Todd Lombardo, Spencer Cullum Jr. (Steelism, Miranda Lambert), Danny Mitchell (Miranda Lambert), and Eamon McLoughlin (The Grand Ole Opry), along with co-writers including Mindy Smith, Michael Rinne, Gwen Sebastian, Aaron Raitiere (A Star Is Born, Lori McKenna, Anderson East), Carl Anderson, Mark Erelli and Hayley Sabella. In a world of negativity and despair, Sunshine Is Free, is all about the bright side of life.
“…Sunshine Is Free, is all about appreciating how the little things in life make it all worth it. A bonfire on a beach. A couple of days with the one you love. Simply doing…nothing.” The album is the follow up to Rizzio’s 2016 solo debut, Washashore Cowgirl, after she spent nearly a decade with folk-pop trio, Tripping Lily. The new album, Sunshine Is Free, is at times an autobiographical account of events that are told through fictional storytelling that provides common experiences for the listener. Rizzio is a brilliant songwriter that has the “it” ability to deliver her words through the emotion in her voice and the straightforward honesty of her words.
The small town, East Texas native, former Nashville resident, and now Cape Cod “Washashore” has hit a homerun with her sophomore effort. The title track, “Sunshine Is Free,” is an upbeat tune, an earworm, that will turn anyone’s frown upside down. “Sunshine Is Free/Music is too” is a line that should put a smile on any music lovers face. The bass line that is associated with this tune, mixed with the pleasing sound of the banjo, make it an instant favorite as you take a ride into your happy place courtesy of Monica Rizzio.
While residing in Nashville in the early 2000’s, Monica was able to follow the work of many singer/songwriters in the area such as Hillary Lindsey, Elizabeth Cook, and her friend, Mindy Smith. The pair, Rizzio and Smith, would remain long distance friends throughout the years. While they never had written any songs together, they collaborated for the first time on Sunshine Is Free, with “While With You.” Rizzio is quoted in Pop Matters as saying, “When I look back to the day that Mindy and I wrote ‘While With You,’ it just fell out of us like a sun shower over a couple of hours. Despite a two-decade long friendship, sharing a few stages, and some late nights, we had never written a song together…” “While With You” is a love song that is an instant classic about being content with the one that you love.
The final tune on the album is a good ol’ Texas waltz inspired by Rizzio’s love for Willie Nelson’s eighteenth studio album, Red Headed Stranger, released in 1975. “Don’t Keep Me Up Waiting” brings the traditional country sound to a very diverse album. It is a sad, country and western tune about heartache, leavin’ your man and getting on the “freight train” out of town. Another song that has all the classic elements that make this album special. The songwriting, the music compositions, and the vocals of Monica Rizzio are all components that make up the special ingredients for this album. The most special ingredient? The bright side of life. Sunshine Is Free provides all that and more. A true work of art by a true artist.
Album available here:
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All Photos Courtesy of Joe Navas: