Nick Santino’s first solo full length, Big Skies, is an album you’ll be talking about for years. It’s one of those releases that buries itself under your skin and becomes a part of who you are. With 8123 and producer Pat Kirch of The Maine by his side, he managed to create something more than an album. Big Skies is a friend, a memory and a journey you love to take.
For this being a relatively new venture, it was a wise decision to lead things in with "Bad Taste" It's one of the greatest tracks Santino’s ever been a part of. Throwing you right into the mix, you'll have an instant knowing of what you're in for with the rest of the album. Following closely behind is "Can't Say I Miss You". With a melody like that and some hard strummed guitar adding flair to every note, it easily keeps up with the pace set by “Bad Taste”.
"Gone Like Yesterday" is a very appropriately titled song because it certainly doesn't sound like it came from the 21st century. The track is so interesting you find yourself completely immersed with every little detail of it. With well placed snapping and impeccably well written lyrics raising the bar even higher, it becomes the best song of the album.
After "Gone Like Yesterday" ends, you'll be a little sad it's over. The whispery intro to "Jackson Browne" lets the emotion thrive before it breaks into a slower, very pretty track you can't help but fall in love with. Santino hits the higher notes with ease, and his vocal performance never lowers its game throughout the entire song.
"Keep On Going"'s jazz like piano transports you back to an old time saloon before "Back To Where I'm From"'s incredible opening guitar leads you into the adventure that is the song. Next up is "It Is What It Is", a track with so much country influence you'll be inspired to grab the nearest cowboy boots and square dance until the cows come home. That isn’t to say it’s fitted for the country top forty, however. The twang it includes is old style, and sounds like it might have been inspired by a fountain of music knowledge named Johnny Cash.
A John Mayer resemblance is strong on "Little Faith", and its falsetto beginning is something to be treasured. The smooth R&B tone is clean and well done, showing yet another facet of the talent Santino obtains.
“Long Way Home” has one of the coolest intros to hit the musicsphere in a long time. Then the song breaks into an undeniable beat you can’t help but dance along to. Once its groove fades out, however, you’re taken into the fastest song of Big Skies. “Mood Ring” is fun, energized and delightfully abrasive at moments. Sounding like a song written for a band of gypsy’s, it’s the perfect anthem for trips of any kind. You can almost see the open road ahead of you while listening - even if you’re planted firmly in front of your computer screen. And although it’s so different from the rest of the tracklist, it manages to fit in seamlessly. A+ to Santino on this one.
Big Skies takes it back down a notch for the closer “She Don’t Miss Me”. It’s a quiet song, one that could be left on repeat for hours as you silently mull over your life’s decisions. Thoughtful enough to be reminiscent of labelmates The Maine’s “These Four Words”, it’s stripped down even further than that song was. It gets down to the most simple of basics and could almost be classified as a poem. Plenty of acapella at moments and an absolutely fantastic acoustic guitar at others make it the perfect closer. It’s a calm exit to an incredible album.