The music of Planetary Nights is testament to the fact that it’s never too late to pursue your true calling and passion. Gritty, earthy and emotionally real, Planetary Nights’s music crosses time and genre, spanning the realms of rock, blues, punk, and soul to create its own highly personalized sound. On its debut album, Elliptical Motion, Planetary Nights weaves melodic tales of love, loss, and despair with a passion and commitment that reels the listener in. It’s a musical expedition, led by a man who has journeyed himself, with the road leading back to his true love and calling – music.
Singer-songwriter R.J. McSweeney is the force behind Planetary Nights. A New York native, R.J.’s passion for music began when he took up trumpet as a child. Switching to guitar in college, R.J. grew up on the great music of the 1960’s: the Beatles, Jefferson Airplane, Motown, Stax, the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Muddy Waters and others. He lived the music, going to shows at such legendary venues as the Fillmore East, Manny’s Carwash and a host of other New York venues. Putting down the guitar to start a family and career, R.J. stayed in touch with his creative side, writing short stories and poetry, but for twenty years, he left making music behind.
But a few years ago, R.J. picked up the guitar again. “If Ever” was the first song R.J. wrote, dedicated to his wife on their 30th anniversary. A plaintive and loving hymn, the song pulses with a simple declaration of devotion and love. And then came “Starting Over,” a song of support and advice for his son, who was going through a break up at the time. “My friends liked what they heard and encouraged me to keep writing.”
Last year, R.J. decided to truly go for it, and entered the studio with producer Mark Hermann and a broad group of musicians including Rob Clores on keyboards and percussionist Graham Hawthorne. With a collection of songs writing solely by R.J., the sessions went smoothly, and Elliptical Motion came into being.
What is apparent from the opening notes of “Fly Away,” is the commitment with which the music is played. R.J’s rhythm guitar is assertive and driving, leading the band. His voice – rough-edged and shot through with feeling, envelopes the listener. The lyric, written and used for a friend’s wedding, is an invitation to elope to the big city; to leave a small town environment and strike out for the possibilities of greater opportunity. That theme of renewal and opportunity is a thread that runs through most of the songs on Elliptical Motion. R.J. explains, “I have a fundamental belief that there is always opportunity for renewal, and I have an underlying optimism that you can move from trying circumstances to a better place.”
“NYC” is a luminous and ethereal trip through New York, reflecting the excitement and vitality of what the city has to offer in terms of music, art and culture; with a gorgeous sheen, the song aurally reflects the beauty of the city and its offerings. “Planetary Nights,” the album’s title track, deals with the continuum of relationships throughout life – our continual need for them and their natural ebb and flow. “I think each song portrays a different dynamic of human emotion that people can relate to at different phases of their own lives.”
- Starting Over
- Fly Away
- If Ever