Get to know all about the singer-songwriter Noam Weinstein! On February 26th, he released his newest album, ’42 ½’. The 14-song collection is smart, deeply soulful rock at its best, with a compelling storyteller’s voice that shines through. Weinstein’s sound and style evoke artists from Jakob Dylan to John Prine to Jeff Tweedy, as he infuses his album with passion, humor and ace musicianship.
Weinstein wryly says the project, his first studio album in four years, “was inspired by that magical time when both the wild innocence of a 42-year-old and the sober wisdom of a 43-year-old are just out of reach.” He adds, “I feel like the primary subject that runs through this collection is what it means for me to be at this strange moment in my life, too old to be full of dreams and too young to be full of gravity…There’s also a lot of grappling with taking control vs letting go, crying vs laughing, and what it means to feel normal, or to feel at all. Especially in such a breathtaking and terrifying time to be alive, to be aging, to be an American.”
The album was recorded and mixed by five-time Grammy Award winner Ryan Freeland (Aimee Mann, Bonnie Raitt, Ingrid Michaelson, Joe Henry & more) and features an army of old and new collaborators on fourteen tracks recorded at Los Angeles’s legendary United Recording Studios.
Connect With Noam Weinstein Online Here: WEBSITE
Learn more about Noam Weinstein in the following All Access interview:
Can you talk about how your newest album, “42 ½” came together?
Gladly; thanks for the invitation to chat. I feel a little strange discussing anything right now that doesn’t directly relate to public health – especially such a selfish topic! – but I very much appreciate your interest nonetheless. (My only recent work that is even vaguely relevant to what everyone’s going through is this flawed song https://soundcloud.com/nosongs/here-to-there)
Anyway, to answer your question, my basic approach to making albums (which deserves at least some of the credit for their enormous critical and commercial success) is to try and focus on writing songs for a year or two before worrying how they fit together, or don’t. Once I have enough material that feels connected, I pick a few central themes, and choose the songs that best embody them. Then I start thinking about fun collaborators!
Did anything surprise you about the overall process?
Yes, there are always a handful of pleasant and unpleasant surprises along the way! Hmm… One thing I didn’t realize until we were actually tracking (at United Recording in Los Angeles) is how much the studio itself and all the legends that had stepped inside it over the years would inspire me.
How did you celebrate the release of it?
We celebrated with a show at a small club I love called The Lizard Lounge (in Cambridge, MA). The highlight for me was my pal Rose Polenzani leading a vocal choir on several of the new songs (“Work Up a Laugh”, “How Dare the World”, and “I Can Feel You Now”).
What was it like working with your five-time Grammy Award winning producer, Ryan Freeland, on this collection?
Ryan was fantastic. My favorite partners on the production and engineering side (most recently Ryan Freeland, Tyler Wood, and Mike Viola) possess some magical mix of technical expertise and artistic insight. And on top of this, Ryan brought lots of experience with the specific musicians who made it happen (like Steve Nistor and Jebin Bruni), and the studios too (primarily United but also his great home studio, Stampede Origin, where we added the string trio and some extra keyboard and guitar parts).
How do you think you have grown as a musician since you first started making music?
Wow; my first songs were absolutely terrible! My latest are easily 15%-20% better.
What if anything has stayed the same about your music-making process?
Probably the sense that it’s an essential part of how I process the world, and that writing will always be some shifting balance of ecstatic and excruciating for me.
Can you recall the moment when you thought you could be a musician?
I remember noticing when I was a kid that sitting down at my parent’s piano made time pass differently… Faster and better! (Maybe slower and worse for those in earshot.)
What do you think motivates you day in and day out?
I guess my motivation is strongest when I come across a new feeling or thought that I can try to capture in a song (and that I can hope resonates with others who’ve experienced something similar).
How do you think your hometown has influenced the kind of music that you make?
Good question… I’ve spent the majority of my life here (minus a decade in New York) so it’s hard for me to have much perspective on it! But without a doubt meeting and working with so many excellent Boston-area artists (some of whom lent their talents to this album, like Fabiola Mendez, Rose Polenzani, Naomi Sommers, Anita Suhanin & Jess Tardy) has inspired me enormously.
Growing up, how important was music in your life?
Until about the age of eight I was just an overly opinionated listener. Then I complained to my parents that – unlike my awesome older sister – I didn’t do anything that was “mine”! My father suggested I try his old nylon-stringed guitar, and the rest is history (though I’m still trying to convince textbook publishers to include this). For the 34+ years since, songs have been my most important companions, with the occasional exception of people.
How do you feel about social media?
I have a lot of respect for its ability to connect us, especially at a time like this — and I’m grateful it’s allowed me to share music with new listeners who might not otherwise hear it — but in general I find it emotionally exhausting, so I’ve learned to avoid it as much as possible just for my mental health (such as it is).
What musicians would you absolutely love to work with in the future?
At the end of the day, what do you hope people take away from your music?
I just hope at least a song or two stays with them and proves to be decent company as they make their way through this beautiful and disturbing world! (You know the one.)