dick-stusso-by-matt-sorensen-1024x682Dick Stusso (photo: by Matt Sorenson)

The universe of Dick Stusso is expanding, and its big bang echoed throughout music industry inboxes and across excited friends' Facebook pages last month — the 29-year-old Oaklander has signed with booking agency Billions.

As the songwriting alias of singer-songwriter Nic Russo, the Dick Stusso world is a place where hopelessness and desire waltz on a bleak stage with cheap country props and few other actors, but a special intimacy pervades, and despite nihilistic inclinations, desire leaves the most lasting impression.

"Nashville Dreams/Sings the Blues" is an album that bookends the singer-songwriter's 20s, filled with staticky country jams, drum machine-backed whisperings, and prescient ruminating on despair and longing. It's self aware and funny, it's dark and realistic; the emotional vulnerability and exceedingly excellent songwriting make for more than a handful of memorable songs among the double albums 16 tracks.

Despite honing his craft over years through home recording, Russo has refrained from live performances — until recently. The singular interview with him last December explains his only recent emergence — longtime friend Rob Miller (who, along with another 1/3 of Mall Walk, is in the Dick Stusso live band) approached Nic about assembling an album, and suggested his own label, Vacant Stare, to release it.

Three months later, with praise from sites like Impose, Noisey, and Pitchfork, Stusso has partnered with The Billions Corporation, who represent names like Arcade Fire, Mumford & Sons, and Bon Iver.

"I don't care about New York City, I don't care about LA" Nic whispers on Heart of the Country, eager to pack his bags and "take his baby with." A desire once relegated to the Stusso dreamworld and confined to his Tascam, the next chapter in the Dick Stusso universe could be on the open highway, if he wants it.

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