Songs in Search of Meaning

In his debut album, singer-songwriter John Faraone tries to figure things out


Quality is the thing that lies beneath creative pursuit. Every moving part, every waking hour, every negative space holds within it the best possible representation of that thing that can be revealed if the time is taken to carefully and mindfully notice it. While some musicians rely on inspiration to strike as a means to create, others take the slow, road-less-traveled of earnest searching and studying and perfecting, allowing their work to be slowly revealed to themselves, cast in vinyl and communicated through carefully considered vibrations.

John Faraone’s debut album Light Upon is the kind of slow search for clarity, purpose, and quality one would hope a musician undertakes to deliver their work. An album steeped in intent and curiosity, it is a product of a musician constantly in a state of self-exploration on the way to some form of self-realization.

What began as an attempt to get some demos out turned into a full-fledged album under a songwriter’s grant that Faraone took his time to record, using the opportunity to explore all aspects of making the album. “The grant that I received from the Iguana Fund at Club Passim in Cambridge allowed me to have my songs mixed and mastered by professionals,” Faraone says, “It took a really long time because as I learned more, I would go back and redo certain parts of a song with a better understanding of how things should be done.”

As a local fixture in the greater Providence music community, Faraone has played as the drummer of The Quahogs and Ian Fitzgerald and Something Else, among other musical forays. He is also a loyal devotee of The Parlour’s Tuesday open mic. “I go to the open mic in the way that people go to a gym to work out,” Faraone says, “Every Tuesday, I have 10 minutes to try to figure out how to get a room full of people to listen to me sing. I have pretty severe stage fright, which is a bummer for someone who wants to only play music ever. So, I work out at the open mic.”

To me, Faraone’s work on Light Upon reads like any of the great travel narratives; Dharma Bums or Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance are the kind of thing that comes to mind as he finds familiar space with the restless wanderers looking for a greater clarity and in the process find that the documentation of the journey is the most important part of the whole thing.

“I think the overall theme of these songs is an attempt to figure things out. Life is weird, man,” Faraone muses, “If you’re starting with a prompt like ‘I think I’m probably alive, but what’s that really all about?’ then you’ll never run out of things to write about. I don’t think any of my songs are really linear, they don’t really tell a story from beginning to end. I think they’re more like vignettes, like each verse is kind of its own little thing... sometimes it’s fun to start with one, end with another that’s completely separate in sentiment, and then write the road in the middle from point A to point B.”

Whether he realizes it or not, Faraone has found the quality he’s been searching for.