Sounds Local: Seth Glier
On the title track of his new album, “Things I Should Let You Know,” Seth Glier sings, “If I told you about all the things that I fear the most/If I threatened you with failure or losing control would you hold on to me?” It’s a song filled with honest emotion and vulnerability as Glier bares his soul to a woman he is falling in love with. “Things I Should Let You Know” is the follow-up to Glier’s 2011 Grammy-nominated “The Next Right Thing.”
This album finds the Shelburne Falls native navigating his way into adulthood as he explores love, life and even politics in a collection of 13 songs in which listeners will find their own stories in his words. Glier, 24, started his career when he was 13 and has spent years honing his craft on the road.
Glier has not only become a dynamic live performer but he also a master at writing melodic folk-pop tunes and singing them in a voice packed with emotion. Listeners will also find some new sounds here, like the Dixieland band on the sassy “New World I See,” or the droning harmonium on the album closer, “I Am Only As Loved As I Am Open.”
Critics across the country are already singing high praises for the album, and rightly so.
Glier, who is currently on a U.S. headlining tour (his largest fan base is in the Midwest), will return home for a CD-release party at the Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton, 20 Center St., on Saturday, Feb. 9, at 7 p.m. He will be accompanied by saxophonist Joe Nerney (Blue Streak, Love Bomb.)
Glier, who produced the album with his longtime collaborator Ryan Hommel of Greenfield, said this was the hardest record he’s ever made. He recorded some songs as many as three times and it wasn’t until he wrote the last song, the title track, that he felt he had the glue to pull the project together.
“It was very much a journey for me to just finish this and figure out what it was,” said Glier in a recent conversation at his South Hadley apartment. “I didn’t know what it was. The success of ‘The Next Right Thing’ also factored into the process.”
“It was apparent that the whole Grammy nomination was opening a lot of doors,” Glier explained. “It was the first time I ever had that kind of pressure and it totally effected me, even though I knew I had to put it away.”
His label, MPress Records, also wanted to build on the momentum his career was experiencing and informed him it needed a hit single on the album.
Glier delivered the goods when he teamed up with songwriter Marshall Altman and they wrote “Man I Used to Be,” a song with an intoxicating “made-for-radio” melody. Last week, USA Today chose it as its song of the week. Glier also did some songwriting with Ellis Paul and Livingston Taylor for this project.
Glier said it was listening to songwriter Randy Newman that gave him the creative license to write about anything he wanted. Ani DiFranco, whom he once toured with, told Glier that he must write the songs that needed to be written — advice he followed when writing the anti-war tune “Plastic Soldiers.”
“It’s too hard to hold the moon she got away with the stars,” he writes in the beautiful ballad, “Too Hard to Hold the Moon,” a highly personal song about his mother standing by his father as he battled alcoholism.
“I thought I was writing a love song to the moon, but I was looking at the lyrics and realized it was about my parents’ relationship,” Glier said. “I never would have been able to write that song if I knew what I was writing about.”
Glier said he actually writes less than 20 songs a year and likes to road test his material to see if it is connecting with his audience.
“People don’t remember the song — they remember how they feel when they hear the song. That is my gauge,” Glier explained. “The stage is my grinding board, it’s how I get things sharper and figure things out.”
Being that “Things I Should Let You Know” is such a strong album, is there another Grammy nod in his future?
“The whole Grammy thing was something that I was never shooting for and then it comes in and I realize it’s there for the rest of your life,” Glier said. “In a way, it has changed so much, and in another way it hasn’t changed a thing.”
He certainly had a fantastic time attending the ceremony and even admitted to be a bit star struck, mixing with the likes of Tony Bennett and Paul McCartney.
“It was like a celebration of the industry — or lack thereof,” Glier said with a laugh. “It is a very long day, and then there was this after-party where a woman in a choral bra was jumping on a trampoline. It was like ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’ and I’m just standing there thinking ‘I’m from Shelburne Falls!’”
Despite his success, the singer remains firmly grounded and continues to cite his autistic brother Jaimie as his greatest inspiration. On this tour, he will raise money and awareness for the organization Autism Speaks!
For Glier success is not about awards or record sales — it is about his music getting into people’s lives.
“My goal at a show is to have one person’s life completely changed, even if just for 31∕2 minutes” Glier said. “Things like iPhones don’t do that, Facebook doesn’t do that. Music is one of the last things that makes us feel less alone in whatever it is we have to climb. So, I take that really seriously. When I have a microphone in hand, that is my gauge of whether a record is successful or not.”
Tickets are $12.50 in advance and $15 at the door. Advance tickets can be purchased at the Northampton Box Office on Main Street, online at www.iheg.com or charge by phone at 413-586-8686.
Sheryl Hunter is a music writer who lives in Easthampton. Her work has appeared in various regional and national magazines. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org