Halfway through, the brass horns and steel guitar broaden the cinematic soundscape and transport me back to my old home in Minneapolis; a place where it’s accepted, even encouraged, to revel and soak in one’s melancholy like a cat basking in the sun. Pisano’s lyrics echo my wandering thoughts, murmuring “the soil behaves as if you’re finally loving again.”
The entirety of “Torchbearer” is a sunrise, a slow reveal of luscious, patient longing for what comes next; yet also by its nature, over as quickly as it begins. “Did you catch the light through the cracks?” Pisano teases, before leaving the listener to bathe in a swell of instrumentals that feels like the sun on one’s face, tingles racing over the skin. In the fleeting moments of its finish, it dawns on me that I’m in a better place now for having heard it. Everything feels a bit lighter.
Out today online, you can also hear “Torchbearer” live, as Corsicana is currently on tour. Headlining as well as opening for Yellow Ostrich, Pisano is joined by Jordan Leone (bass, synths), Sumner Erhard (drums, guitar), and Ryan Bannigan (drums, keys/synths) in this latest effort and on the road. (Catch them next in Colorado Springs.)
He described his start in music to me as “uninteresting,” and at first glance, I wouldn’t consider it auspicious myself. But in the past eight years, he’s released 3 EPs, 2 LPs and several singles—many of which are self-recorded, mixed, mastered and produced, and all before the age of 25. That’s nothing if not prolific.
It was his first experience playing music with other people, “but nothing quite clicked,” in terms of musical taste, he told me. While others were into classic rock and pop tunes, Pisano was listening to Coldplay and Muse. So he started learning cover songs and teaching himself guitar.
“It did not come easy,” Pisano told me. At this formative time in his musical journey, he started to think: “I have to figure out how to do everything myself because I don't know if I can rely on other people.”
Although he felt isolated in terms of his musical taste and interest, Pisano pushed on. His love of music required it. His parents were also a strong influence, role models in making the most of a situation and doing better for oneself and one’s family.
When Pisano started high school in 2012, however, his luck began to change. He left homeschooling behind, met likeminded musical friends, and started recording music. Friends became bandmates, the band gained a name—“Corsicana,” a song by The Antlers and a town somewhere in Texas—and music became not just a hobby, but a commitment.
By the time he graduated high school, Pisano had had his first serious relationship, become a marketable guitar player, and Corsicana had a full length record.
But it wasn’t until 2018 (when I saw them live and for the first time) and then when the pandemic began, that Corsicana solidified into more stable forms, and came to exist as it does today.
The common denominator between everything you hear, however, is Pisano’s heart. It doesn’t matter if the subject is lighthearted or melancholy, every song comes from the most sincere source, and it’s likely to hit you in yours. His voice gives it away: a higher, softer sound that doesn’t boast or brag, but brings you to a more personal place than where you started. By baring his own truths, Pisano strikes a chord with almost any listener and allows them to become more in tune with themselves.
I’m tempted to call him the musical child of Bon Iver and Phoebe Bridgers, or use some other cheesy analogy. But he does sit in the same vein as female artists like Bridgers, Snail Mail, Bebadoobee, Tomberlin and The Japanese House; as evidence by their popularity, not hiding from your feelings is now the big thing within indie music—and I’m here for it. Corsicana joins the ranks of Night Beds, Port St. Willow, S. Carey, City and Colour, Yellow Ostrich—and yes, The Antlers, one of his major influences—who get unabashedly emotionally intimate and make something gorgeous out of it.
When I return to “The Torchbearer” after thinking about Pisano’s path, it hits differently. It showcases all the things he’s been working on over the past ten years. His lyrics are less blunt, more scene-setting. He’s experimenting with vocal effects, additional instrumentals, and is clearly focused on the big picture; the way that the melody, harmonies, lyrics and instrumentals all come together to form a cohesive whole.
Pisano wouldn’t change the past, the somewhat lonely start he had in music, and “Torchbearer” feels that way. It's an embodiment of his music becoming more than himself; there’s a joy in it, a fullness that celebrates his vision coming to life with a community, and his arrival in a space where he’s not making music to prove anything to anyone but himself. “Leave your resentment where it belongs,” he croons.
Lucky for us listeners, there is still plenty of time and much more to come from Corsicana—including an album that's finished being recorded and is in production by Pisano himself. His passion for music extends beyond the notes and the words; he gets lost in the mixing and mastering for hours at time. Music-making, as a whole, "is the only thing that doesn't feel like work,” he told me.
Yet Pisano works really hard at it, and he’s always going to want to be better than he is now—his ambition grand but his ego not. But he's given himself all the advice he needs as he enters this next phase—the final words of the last song, “Arraignment,” on Corsicana’s most recent LP, Perennial: “pace yourself / you have so much more to give.”