Rarely does a brand-new artist emerge fully formed, with a unique and compelling sound, one that buries itself in the thicket of one's senses like a lover's voice, and brilliantly captivating, deeply personal songs that magically have a way of telling our own life's journeys. But when it does happen -- as evidenced on Marc Scibilia's bracing six-song debut EP -- the result is stunning.
The half-dozen selections here may as well be an album's worth -- they certainly feel like time well spent. But perhaps that's because singer-songwriter Scibilia documents his emotions in ways that are in total obedience to his heart's most urgent commands. "I really don't know any other way of writing," Scibilia says. "To me, singing songs is about saying what's in your soul, and you can't do that unless you're prepared to dive down deep. When I write a song, that's what I do."
He may not have known it, but the stage was set for Scibilia to do it all along. Born and raised in Buffalo, New York, he was surrounded by music before he could walk: His father worked for a leading drumstick manufacturing company, and his grandfather was a bassist in a pit orchestra. At age three, not even big enough to see over a drumset, Scibilia grabbed a pair of sticks and started banging away. "And not just wailing and hitting things," he says. "I was making up my own little songs."
By six, Scibilia took to the piano, which would become his main instrument and primary tool for writing. "It just always felt natural and normal to make up my own songs," Scibilia says. "I didn't have to think about it. It all just came to me. It's like I didn't have a choice in the matter."
Weaned on the sounds of Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, Jim Croce and James Taylor, Scibilia spent his time in high school bands, fusing his love of personal and confessional storytelling with the rock 'n' roll delivery of Bruce Springsteen. "Performing, like songwriting, was something I just had to do," Scibilia says. "I would have done it for free. Actually, I did for a long time!"
For years, Nashville had been a romantic notion in Scibilia's head, and after a stab at college, he knew where his internal compass was pointing. "A teacher sat me down at one point and said to me, 'What are you going to do, move to Nashville and write songs?' And in all seriousness, I answered, 'Well, that sounds like a pretty good idea.'"
And that's just what he did -- moved to Music City, where he found a welcoming, like-minded community of singers, songwriters and musicians, and a slew of stages where Scibilia honed his craft. It didn't take long for word to get out about this new kid in town, who seemed to have it all: songs, charisma and a live show that was connecting with exuberant audiences. While knocking out the crowds, Scibilia picked up the guitar in earnest -- it was easier to bring to gigs than a piano -- and found that he had a real feel for the instrument. "All of a sudden, a whole batch of new songs poured out of me," says Scibilia. "The guitar brought out this new side to me, something that was very direct and impactful."
The industry agreed: earlier this year, Sony/ATV Music Publishing Co-President Danny Strick signed Scibilia to a long-term deal, one which would cover not only songwriting but recordings, as well.
One listen to Marc Scilbia's debut EP is proof-positive that he's a multi-faceted artist who's in it for the long-haul. There's the aforementioned "Better Man," light as a daydream but resonant for weeks, a purposeful acoustic ballad driven by a briskly strummed acoustic with evocative sonic treatments that serve to deepen the song's true meaning. "So many people have come up to me and said 'You're singing my song,' says Scibilia. "When you hear that, you know you're doing your job well."
And there's the upbeat and toe-tapping "Bright Day Coming," positive and hopeful but devoid of sticky sentiment. "It's sort of me projecting the guy I'd like to be," says Scibilia. "I'm probably more cynical than the dude in the song, but that's OK. We all have a ways to go."
Scibilia's got a sing-along in his back pocket with "What If I Can," a breezy, mid-tempo, country-rock charmer that works its way into your soul as it caresses your ears. "It's a song about needing redemption," Scibilia says. "That's me opening my heart. Funnily enough, the melody came to me before the words, but that's OK."
That's just some of the gems to be found on Marc Scibilia's debut EP. There's other moments of light and shade, grand and glorious pieces of time that will result in time-well-spent. Plenty of artists can sing you a song. Marc Scibilia lets you in on a feeling. That's no small accomplishment.