Somewhere in between the recording and release of the Long Distance Runners’ 2012 album Tracks, attending industry events and playing shows with the band, front man Chris Picco found the time to write and record a new album, The Beach — his first solo album in over five years.

Set at a completely different pace than the music he’s recorded with the Long Distance Runners, Picco aims to reconnect with his country and folk roots. The entire album, recorded live off the floor, demonstrates his talent as a solo artist.

'The Beach' is Chris Picco's first solo effort in five years.
The Beach is Chris Picco’s first solo effort in five years.

“With the Runners we recorded all the songs off the floor, but there’s only the odd song where the vocals are live,” Picco explained during a recent phone conversation. “But with my solo record, the vocals are recorded live with the band in the room. I wanted it to feel raw, like Neil Young.”

Recording the album live was the best idea Picco had, as his voice radiates in the songs with greater intimacy than heard with his rock band.

His raspy, Dylanesque voice, accompanied by an upbeat rhythm, echoes through Real Estate Man as the lyrics unfold a satirical story as Picco takes on the character of an ex-lover.

Continuing through the album, I stumbled upon title track The Beach. Picco informed me it has more delicate meaning, as he wrote it in memory of his mother who had passed during recording. “In the Runners I get to hide behind a bigger sound and it’s not as personal,” he explained. “That’s the reason I saved so many songs, like the title track for my solo record – because it’s pretty personal.”

The Beach reveals a different side of Picco, which is refreshing for the local music scene. His lyrics relate to different aspects of life, ranging from love to death, while the music explodes with a country-folk feeling. “I just felt like it was the right time to do a personal snapshot of where I am,” Picco explained. “It takes time to trust yourself and put yourself out there. A lot has changed in the three years from when I first put the band together, and these songs capture where I’ve been in the past little while.”

Picco’s album release show will take place Thursday, May 30 at the Fat Cat Blues Bar on George Street in St. John’s. Sherry Ryan and Ilia Nicol will open the evening, and Picco’s performance will be followed with a set by Craig Young.