Talk about fate. Awhile back, Saratogian Jim Mastrianni, a musician and general music-lover—who also happens to be Chairman of the Board of Directors at Caffè Lena—walked into Saratoga Springs’ pottery studio, Creative Sparks, to make some art with his daughter. There, he stumbled upon a kindred spirit. Angelina Valente, who was working there that day (her mother owns the studio), was blasting neo-soul group Lake Street Dive, one of Mastrianni’s favorite bands. The two struck up a conversation, and soon, he’d learned that Valente was herself a pianist and singer-songwriter and was looking to record some of her own music. As luck would have it, Mastrianni had a recording studio in his East Avenue house in Saratoga. Within weeks, he was cutting Valente’s tunes.
Raised on Motown and The Beatles, Valente, a native of Galway, NY, began writing and recording music when she was a student at Rider University. After graduating and returning home, she began doing open-mic nights and getting gigs around the city. “I never wrote songs with the intention of making an album,” says Valente. “I essentially just wrote songs, because it felt really nice.” That is, until Mastrianni stepped in. He says his production services are largely advertised by word-of-mouth; he doesn’t do it for a living, so he’s really just after the rush of producing good music. “I think Angelina’s artwork really needed to be recorded,” says Mastrianni. “What I’m doing is saying, let’s get this artwork out there, because I find, if we make it more about the artwork and do it that way, then it gets done.” And it sounds like Mastrianni was the right guy to have in the control room. “He really kept it about me,” says Valente. “This was about a girl and her piano; I didn’t get buried; he got it; he really understood it.”
The result of the sessions is a six-song album, You and Me, which was released back in April, and she recently had the chance to premiere the songs at her hometown venue: Galway’s The Cock ‘n Bull Restaurant. She’s also performed at a number of spots around Saratoga, including, most recently, Comfort Kitchen for their Comfort Tunes series. She says she intends on doing more local gigs, and has some house concerts and open mics in New York City planned. Keep an eye out for where/when she’ll be playing next here. You can also catch her singing and playing washboard for local bluegrass band, Ramblers Home.
Says Valente of her recent good fortune: “I was feeling like, I don’t know what the next step is [in my music career]. And all of a sudden, I just put [it] together now: This is the next step; what I’m in the middle of right now.”