Boston bred musician Jay Psaros is back at it again with a new record, The Trees Beyond The Town.
This is his fourth studio album and it is set to be released December 14th. I had the chance to talk with Jay Psaros about a myriad of topics ranging from The Trees Beyond The Town, his faithfulness to Boston’s best medieval themed dinner theater to his love of skiing. Interview is below.
But before we get to the interview, I want to talk about The Trees Beyond The Town.
Jay Psaros’ music puts me in the mind of making brunch on a Sunday morning, mimosa in hand, troubles fading with each crunch of avocado toast. That’s millennial enough, right? Bottom line: this is a record I doubt anyone would complain about. The lyrics from Jay are softly sung, being delivered from the mild-mannered fellow that he is. Steel guitar work found on tracks like “Only Love” and closer “The Trees Beyond The Town” offer up some supplementary styling from the otherwise straightforward instrumentation. The Trees Beyond The Town is akin to waves on the shore, gentle and quickly fades, but whilst they last help ease the mind.
Would you like this record? Yes. Would your mother? Yes. Would your lover? Yes.
Full Jay Psaros interview below:
Tell me a little about The Trees Beyond The Town. What is unique about this new record against your previous three?
Well I started with the self-titled track and built an album around it. I used the same producer (Lorne Entress) and there was nothing necessarily different recording wise about this record, however it does in strange ways represent a piece of my life now. It marks the end of a certain phase I was going through. As an artist you grow as you continue crafting and go through different phases.
The first phase is honing your songwriting craft, the second is exploring and the third is polishing it. I felt like this record is a polishing phase that I was in and now I am ready for something new.
It grows on me each time I listen to it, mostly because your lyrics are so open and personable. Is that an intentional songwriting craft or a natural occurrence when you write?
Definitely a mix of both. “Strangers Again” is a very true story about being in a committed relationship before becoming strangers, which I find to be an interesting concept. Knowing someone so intimately and following a certain amount of time questioning if you even knew that person at all.
Some of the other songs on here are on the opposite spectrum of that, I just got married so I imagine there were a lot of subconscious thoughts going on there. Then a song like “Coming Up the River”… I still don’t know what that one is about yet. I think that is why artists create in the first place, to discover bits of themselves.
Do you have any favorites on T.T.B.T.T.?
Yeah! I think “Dear Jane” is my favorite; I like the arrangement and the writing on it. I believe that song to be a result of a sound I have been chasing for years.
Is it true that you have done dinner theater before?
Oh yeah, for 11 years. Good ol’ medieval themes! Boston’s oldest running dinner theater show. It was the first paycheck I ever had and I met my wife there. Tragic ending though because the owner had a difficult time adapting to the changing atmosphere and Boston kept getting an influx of people, causing hotels to pop up around us. We went from doing around 9 sold out shows a week to hardly anything. The owner died 3 months after theater closed.
You really have a strong connection to Boston, being as how you grew up there and still continue to live there. What is it about Boston you feel is so special?
I really love New England. I also lived in Vermont for 4 years. All through my 20’s I really just toured around New England and met so many cool people and got to play so many neat places. Very folksy and there is a lot of romanticism up here – like the fisherman going out to sea. Boston has so many great music schools, programs and venues as well. You can still make a living up here as a musician too which is becoming harder and harder in other places.
Can you tell me a little about PB & Jay Records?
I always want to be involved in personal projects, and I can’t release my own records every year so I ended up developing this as a way to help out so many cool musicians I have met and worked with over the years. My wife and I do a lot of video production work too. It has become a booking agency and it helps fill the gap in between my personal projects by still staying involved in the scene.
What are some of your hobbies outside of making music?
I love skiing! Doing that and anything outdoors is the one thing that shuts me down. It is the one time I can focus on what am I doing and nothing else. My wife and I also love hanging out with our dog, we are completely obsessed with her.
Is there any specific period or music genre that you consider your favorite?
I loved the songwriting of Tom Petty. Especially the time period of Traveling Wilburys. It was a time when pop music still meant real musicians making pop songs that were not heavily produced. Just a bunch of dudes who just hung out and had fun doing what they were doing. Full Moon Fever is a perfect album from Petty too.
What’s next for you Jay? Any cool projects lined up for next year?
I am going to be producing a CD for a buddy of mine and hopefully going to be doing more opening acts next year. I just got back actually from doing a gig with Boz Skaggs which was fantastic. Hoping to push more of these contacts and keep working. I also have a mini-documentary in the works. There is always something to work on, you know? Another goal of mine is to travel more places and work with producers from different places. The atmospheres from different environments add a special energy to things and that is something I want to explore.