Nashville-based singer-songwriter Zach Berkman has released “My Old Friend,” the newest single from his forthcoming LP, The Heart Of, out on November 10th via Brooklyn Basement Records. “‘My Old Friend’ is about reaching out to a loved one after a cold spell, or being reached out to by a long-lost loved one. “Either way, belonging seems to be an excellent treatment for doubt,” Berkman explains. “My Old Friend” follows the release of lead single “Alone.”
“‘Alone’ came along at the beginning of the end of a relationship, just when I knew I could feel something slipping away and when I still hoped I could fix it,” Berkman says. “The verses describe a crumbling house as a metaphor for a crumbling love—the crooked pictures and fading marks of a thing untended. I thought about my grandparent’s old farmhouse where we made these recordings, left dusty and in disrepair for so long then restored and renewed, and I wondered whether you could do that with people…The repeats of the title are at once mantra, warning, and a facing of fear,” he added. “If we can’t reconcile our differences, we will end up Alone.”
With a diverse musical background and eight released albums, Berkman is an accomplished and unapologetically honest storyteller. Singing about love and loss, growth and change, his forthcoming effort, The Heart Of, is a meditation on those expansive questions that fill all of our lives. After the end of a long-term relationship, Berkman found himself in a period of personal and professional stagnation. The 12 intimate and bittersweet tracks on the album connect with universal struggles. Despite being accustomed to creating records autonomously, an old friend’s suggestion led Berkman to artistically pivot and create a new sound – this time with a collective. He thoughtfully rallied his inner circle – fellow artists, writers, and creators – to bring his vision to life, resulting in the most personally and artistically fulfilling project of his career.
The name of the album is a reflection of Berkman’s past, his creative process, and the kind of art he seeks to share with the world. Growing up in Peoria, Illinois along the banks of the Illinois River, Berkman was raised in a region that calls itself “the heart of” the state. He also describes true collaboration as getting to “the heart of” or “the center of the idea” whilst incorporating various sounds, his conviction that what we create should be the essence – the heart of – who we are.
When it came time to record, Berkman enlisted the help of long-standing favorites: his best friend and co-producer on the project, Ron Pope, sang and played banjo and electric guitar. Justin Glasco (formerly of The Lone Bellow) played drums, percussion, piano, and organ, Rachel Ries (Her Crooked Heart, Anais Mitchell, Kith and Kin Chorus) lent her guitar, accordion, vocal, and piano skills, and Jeff Malinowski sang and played bass and acoustic guitars. Berkman and his studio crew set up a studio in his family’s rejuvenated farmhouse located in rural Michigan. The space is, perhaps, the last band member.
What began as a soul-searching quest for answers to life’s big questions became a celebration of artistic collaboration. The Heart Of is intimate, bittersweet, and introspective – a poignant study of growing up and moving on. The Heart Of is available for pre-save and pre-order HERE.
Photo Courtesy: Nicole Mago