William Fitzsimmons was once asked by a TV and film music supervisor if he had any songs that didn’t have the word “love” or “heart” in them.

“I don’t think I actually have any!” the singer-songwriter remembers with a laugh.

It’s a funny anecdote but one that illustrates the unabashed emotionalism that drives Fitzsimmons, the Nashville-via-Pittsburgh musician who headlines City Winery in New York tonight. He’s at World Cafe Live in Philadelphia on Tuesday, March 25,

Fitzsimmons is touring in support of “Mission Bell,” his 2018 album. The record only emerged after he abandoned another album after the breakup of his marriage and musical partnership.

“I would say I was in denial of the musical shortcomings it had,” he says of the album he left behind. “The entire reason that I trashed it was for the personal reasons, it was for the connection with the person that ended up getting involved with my wife. He was the one I ended up making the record with. In that way, it was one of the easier choices I’ve ever made.”

When Fitzsimmons rebooted, he decided to record direct to tape. The experience, he says, “was terrifying.”

“It’s not that you couldn’t mess up, but you had to get into the mindset of the song and not care that you have this F sharp coming up that’s a little high for me,” he says. “You have to worry about the emotion that you’re trying to convey.”

Fitzsimmons, who worked as a therapist, finds music to be a valuable tool and hopes his songs and live shows can provide the same comfort for listeners.

“I used to be a therapist and I’m a consumer of therapy, and I like to look at it kind of like that it’s important for someone to come and unload a lot of emotions they might be holding onto,” he says. “It’s not that it’s not entertaining, I think that we put on a really good, entertaining show, but if you’re present in that room you tend to feel things.”

With emotions running high, Fitzsimmons is already working on a new album.

“My personal life is, I would say it’s a mess, going through a divorce and all that lovely stuff,” he says. “So the writing has been comforting and also rewarding right now. It’s just nice to use a song as a way to, I don’t know, supplement my reading and therapy and prayer. It just kind of helps.”

Photo by Shervin Lainez

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