Mark Pietrovito is not afraid to rely on his friends when the need arises. The former mandolin player for Part & Parcel is blessed with many of them and doesn’t take any for granted.
Recently, Pietrovito found himself at a crossroads in his life. His band, comprised of some of his longest and best friends, had just called it quits. He was looking for a new direction while facing adversity on many fronts.
He used songwriting as a tool to pass the time and fell into an extremely prolific artistic period. His struggles, as well as his achievements, began to emerge in the music.
Eventually, things began to brighten in Mark’s world. He settled into life after his band. He got sober. He started to embrace the happiness again. And he was sitting on a ton of new songs that reflected his journey - both personally and artistically.
At that point, Pietrovito did what he has always done - he reached out to his friends.
Mark began by connecting with artist and producer Brian Dale Allen Strouse, who helped to start the process of bringing the new music to life. He then called on some of his best friends in Tenth Mountain Division to serve as his backing band. He recruited Pennsylvanian folk artist, Little Flowers, for additional vocals.
GoodFolk, as this new venture would be dubbed, was coming to fruition - with the help of Mark Pietrovito’s friends.
“The beauty of GoodFolk,” Pietrovito says, “is that it’s a collaborative effort between me and whatever friends are around! The lineup isn’t ever permanent.”
One of the friends who happened to be “around” was Fritz Boniface (Deer Creek Sharpshooters), who also helps manage the Home Ranch in Clark, CO. Pietrovito chose this as the location to finally give life to his collection of songs.
A few days were spent soundproofing a cabin, and Boulder’s Cosmic Collective supplied gear and helped to build a studio space. Brian Dale Allen Strouse and Little Flowers flew in from Pennsylvania and were joined by Tenth Mountain Division and Kay McKenzie (Three Wire Winter).
In just a few days, the entire album that would be Thanks For Being My Friend was recorded. During the process, the group did what friends do; they rode horses, explored the property, played music, and poured themselves into the project.
The recordings that came from this session reflect the attitudes and relationships surrounding the artists in that time and space. While many of the songs dive into deeper waters, the light still manages to shine brightly through.
I Can’t Swim, the first track to be released, features the full band of Tenth Mountain Division along with Little Flowers’ vocals. The song is catchy and playful, but in a sarcastic sort of way. Of I Can’t Swim Pietrovito says, “I think it makes mischief out of struggle.”
Living Proof is one of the few older songs on the album, written several years ago, but remaining true to the original composition. The recording features Andrew Cooney (Tenth Mountain Division) and a brief backing vocal from Little Flowers.
“I wrote this tune years ago, it always stuck with me,” Pietrovito says. “I think it’s about a life-long sort of love.”
From the opening track of Blue, with its danceable, uptempo beat combined with introspective lyrics, it is evident that this album will cover a mountain of terrain.
“Nothing is as it seems,
there are angels talking in my dreams.
They give advice to me,
but nothing comes for free.”
And that is an ongoing theme of Thanks For Being My Friend - that nothing is as it seems.
An apparently mournful song like Many Things will have you happily humming along to the catchy and uplifting melody. From the folk ballad of Everybody to the self-reflective Scapegoat, these songs tell deep stories and paint intricate pictures.
“You’ve got to make it to the top
If you’re gonna fall from grace
If you hit the bottom before me
Just save a little space”
Fin des Temps is a duet with Little Flowers that could easily find itself on any pop chart, while Ghosts dares the listener to rethink their own existence, but maintains a melody that won’t easily fade from your head. A song like Sad is anything but, delivered with a straight-up rocking guitar solo along the way.
The album’s closing track, Bitter Truth, displays an image of an artist struggling through a difficult time, with the refrain “I feel I’m breaking down.” Yet the song manages to frame the image in hope.
From top to bottom, it is hope that permeates every note of GoodFolk’s debut album. Hope in struggle, hope in sin, hope in life. Hope has brought Mark Pietrovito to the place in which he now finds himself, and the journey is laid out for all to hear.
The chorus of Scapegoat repeats, “Well I’m just trying to find my way.”
Luckily, Mark Pietrovito has many good folks to help him find it, and for that, he says Thanks For Being My Friend.
Thanks For Being My Friend can be pre-saved on Spotify now.