What does love mean? That’s a question Robert De Leo is trying to decipher for himself on debut solo single “Love Is Not Made of Gold,” off his upcoming first solo album Lessons Learned, out Oct. 21.
“I needed to confess my feelings on that ever so mystical word … love,” said De Leo of the track. “I wanted this song to come across in such a way that really hits where it hurts.”
Playing on a more Americana channel of guitar and steadied vocals by Jimmy Gnecco, “Love Is Not Made of Gold” faces the harsher reality that “it” (love) isn’t always what it seems—Love is not made of gold / No matter what you’ve been told / It’s nothing but a lie / It’ll begin to rust / Tarnish and turn to dust / Where once it used to shine.
Produced by Robert De Leo and recorded and mixed by Ryan Williams, Lessons Learned is a sort of journal in time, with pages pulled from De Leo’s own life through more sentimental tracks “She Brings the Rain,” “What Will Be,” and “What’ll I Do,” and leaves more evidence of his mastery of melody and arrangement, many times bared in his work as a key songwriter for Stone Temple Pilots.
Though the themes are universal throughout Lessons Learned, De Leo said he’s left his own expressions of each in song, circling around changes that transpired over the past several years with the album title pointed toward “ the result of what happens when your heart leads you in many different directions,” according to De Leo.
“‘Lessons Learned’ is a very personal album for me,” De Leo told American Songwriter. “The journey has been an interesting one. This collection of songs has been my diary through the trials of trying to find what that ever so mystical word love means.”
He added, “I have been working on this record for about three years. As time passed each song came about in its own special way. I had time to sit down and reevaluate my acoustic guitar playing, songwriting, and life. It meant a lot to take advantage of so much time that the world allowed.”
For De Leo, whose STP songwriting contributions began from the band’s inception, from 1992 debut Core and follow up Purple, through Tiny Music… Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop in 1996 and onward with their subsequent albums—songs tend to gravitate to him in the same way they always have.
“Ideas mainly start on acoustic guitar which then usually sparks melodies,” shared De Leo. “Songs always tend to emerge from a melancholy place from within. In a strange way, it is comforting to me—the curse and gift of being a songwriter.”
Lessons Learned track listing:
- Big Sky Woman
- She Brings The Rain
- Love Is Not Made Of Gold
- Put Aside Your Sorrows
- Lessons Learned
- What Will Be
- What’ll I Do
- Is This Goodbye
Photo: Duke De Leo