Healing Sounds of Music Guide Pezzettino’s Latest
Oakland artist Margaret Stutt, who records as Pezzettino, emerges from trying times with a new release, ‘Resin.’
Margaret Stutt, who records as Pezzettino, has a new self-released album out, Resin, that also features Carly Bond and Andrew Maguire.
Photo by Ginger Fierstein
Margaret Stutt records as Pezzettino, the title character of a children’s book by Leo Lionni, but there’s nothing childish about the music on Resin, her new self-released album.
“I thought I had an album’s worth of songs ready to record. Then Trump was elected and I scratched everything,” she said, speaking from her Oakland home and sharing the process that went into making Resin. It was recorded at Oakland’s Tiny Telephone Studio and documents a difficult period in the artist’s life.
“I was shocked by the election, flooded with elements of horror and grief,” she said. “It felt familiar, because I’d recently gone through a process of hospitalization, for psychiatric symptoms. As I reflected on my journey of healing and transformation, I realized we’d have to allow ourselves to lament the atrocious things that were happening and take it day by day. Sometimes, the worst affliction, or election, may lead to something better
in the end. You have to take the long view and believe the new reality you’re facing will help you develop the skills you need to cope with it.”
For previous Pezzettino albums, Stutt went into the studio with songs she’d been playing on the road. She had complete arrangements worked out and knew exactly what she wanted to hear. “This time, I only had skeletal structures in mind. Sometimes just a bit of a melody in my head or a few lyrics. I was building the record from the ground up, creating songs out of a few simple elements.”
John Vanderslice, owner of Tiny Telephone, introduced Stutt to multi-instrumentalist Carly Bond and drummer/percussionist Andrew Maguire. “I’d never met them before, but I wanted to play with instrumental tones and textures. It turned out to be a perfect match. When I played live, before my breakdown, I was tied to the accordion and the effects pedals I used to vary the sound. Since I hadn’t played with Carly and Andrew before, I didn’t have any preconceived ideas. They had the ability to tune into the feelings I wanted to express and didn’t impose their own style on them. They sensed where I was at, so the studio freed me up to go in any direction I liked.”
The songs on Resin follow Stutt on her path from trauma to recovery. “Virginia” describes a suicide attempt, with understated accordion tones and a discreet vocal, balanced on the edge of tears. “If You’re Listening” is a subliminal deliberation on the tribulations of living in Trump’s America, with whispered vocals and a simple repeating melody played on acoustic piano. Muted xylophone and subtle percussion give “Shower Song” a warm, soothing aura that compliments Stutt’s elemental singing.
Most of the songs conclude with instrumental interludes that allow the musicians to stretch out and ornament Stutt’s melodies with soothing ad libs. “The album mirrors my healing journey, from high anxiety to the grounded, calmer feelings of recovery. The atmospheric sounds captured the shifting mood of that passage. I wanted to keep them in, because they give you some sense of the uncomfortable spaces and uneasiness you have to sit through to get back to the ground. You have to breathe it through, and feel it through. There’s no shortcut in life. You can’t speed the healing process or the discomforts of everyday life. You have to keep feeling them and keep going. If I glossed over the difficulties, there would be no point in making music. You have to be vulnerable. It’s not just music for music’s sake. If someone else can find a reflection of themself in it, that’s just an added bonus.”