By Matt Smith
Jim Boggia’s star in the Philadelphia music community is firmly cemented. The multi-talented singer-songwriter is a scene fixture, and he drew regional acclaim as a member of local supergroup 4 Way Street (with Ben Arnold, Scott Bricklin and Joseph Parsons). Boggia is making a national push with his new solo CD, “Safe in Sound,” due Tuesday on New York City label Bluhammock Music. The 12-song effort is chock full of well-crafted pop songs, and features guest appearances by Aimee Mann, Emitt Rhodes, Jill Sobule and Wayne Kramer. Metro caught up with the West Philadelphia resident before a gig at The Point in Bryn Mawr, where he opened for Mann’s husband, Michael Penn.
You decided to go out to Los Angeles to record this one?
JIM BOGGIA: It was for a couple reasons. One was to just be away from my day-to-day routine – having all the stuff of your normal life encroaching on the making of a record - and also because I decided to work with Julian Coryell and Joe Zook as the producers. They’re both based out there and knew a lot of musicians and studios … Also, I was making the record in the fall and I have such bad winter depression that the idea of being in sunshine for an extra two and a half months was a great draw.
Did that change the feel of it?
This album has a fairly broad range. There’s some very upbeat, very happy tunes, and then there’s some quasi-suicidal tunes, and then stuff in the middle. That comes more from the writing process. Once you have the songs you know you’re going have, that determines what the tone of the album is going to be.
Your first solo CD ( “Fidelity is the Enemy” ) came out in 2001. Were you already working on the follow-up when 4 Way Street came about?
Yeah. I thought it was going to be another DIY, indie thing. What people don’t really understand about 4 Way is that none of us intended it to be such a big project. It really was supposed to be one show here (at The Point) at Christmastime, a cool thing to do for all of our fans. It just started taking on a life of its own, but we were having fun doing it and people seemed to enjoy it. That was all great but the longer we did it the more allencompassing it became.
Do you still play songs from the 4 Way CD (“Pretzel Park”) like ”Several Thousand”?
It’s amazing with “Several Thousand” (which also appeared on “Fidelity is the Enemy”). Even on as small a scale career as I’ve had, you get that experience of “the hit that people want to hear” and the experience of “the hit that I just don’t want to play.” I’ve absolutely promised myself that I don’t slavishly play it all the time, but I also play it enough of the time that people who come to a few shows will get their ”Several Thousand” fix. The hope is that as this album comes out there will be one or two more songs that get to the “Several Thousand” level.
You’ve been doing music full-time for a couple years?
Yeah, seven or eight. I started playing in other people’s bands, doing session work and jingles, and writing stuff for other people. More and more of my income is playing my own shows and selling my own records. It’s nice. I’m trying to push that bigger and bigger. What I really hope to accomplish with this record is, at least throughout most of the country, to have a core audience so I have the ability to go to different cities and play.
Jim Boggia celebrates the release of “Safe in Sound” 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at World Cafe Live, 3025 Walnut St., Philadelphia. General admission tickets cost $15 advance, $17 day of show; mezzanine tickets cost $42 advance, $44 day of show, and include a buffet. Call: 215-222-1400 or visit www.world cafelive.com. Jim Boggia on the Web: www.jimboggia.com.