Many of the songs on Paul Federici’s sophomore album, Now and Then, take on a greater poignancy when you learn of the singer’s past struggles with mental health issues. In fact, things got so bad for the Grimsby, Ontario based singer/songwriter that his father had to move in with him in case he tried to harm himself. “It got to the point where it was difficult for me to function,” Federici admits. “At one point, I remember going to work during the day, then driving to CAMH’s (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health) emergency room that evening unsure if I’d need to be admitted.”
Ironically, Federici – a Master’s level social worker employed at a mental health crisis network – found himself battling many of the same demons as his clients. In order to cope, Federici, a self-taught musician, picked up his long dormant acoustic guitar and attempted to strum away his pain. Incredibly, it worked and gave the 34-year-old something the anti-pills couldn’t: hope. “Music got me out of that rut and gave me hope,” Federici says. “It was one of the things that gave me a lift and reminded me to follow my heart and take chances again.”
The dulcet-toned singer did just that, quitting his day job and recording his debut album, Relative Importance (January 2012) at Catherine North Studios in Hamilton, working with producer moon:and:6 (Whitehorse). Not only was Relative Importance a critical hit, but it climbed to #1 on CFBU 103.7FM Brock University Radio’s charts, and earned Federici a 2012 Niagara Music Award for Adult Contemporary Artist of the Year.
A year later and the likeable Federici is more convinced than ever that he made the right choice. “I felt much more reflective during the writing process and I think Now and Then is an appropriate title given how much my life has changed over the last year and a half,” says the singer. “This is a record I felt more confident with, and it certainly has a more uplifting tone.”
Now and Then features more of the same achingly honest acoustic guitar driven folk/pop that was a hallmark of his debut. Once again Federici’s voice is the focal point, as it should be, stringing beautiful harmonies together driving the infectious melodies. Don’t let titles like “Strange Disease,” “Lonely Heart,” and “Last Regret” fool you – these are songs of triumph, by someone looking forward to the future while reflecting on the past. And if he keeps releasing music as good as this, the future looks bright indeed.