Sam D'Angelo led the '80s indie rock band Sister Ray until its 1990 breakup, before returning years later in 2002 as a solo artist. Based in Youngstown, OH, D'Angelo founded Sister Ray in 1985 alongside his brother Joe. The garage punk band released a few records, including a single for Sub Pop, and ultimately broke up in 1990. During the '90s, D'Angelo earned a college degree and led a nine-to-five lifestyle. Around 2001, he decided to begin writing songs again. He began in his basement, aiming toward honest and personal songwriting rather than a particular style or sound, and concluded with Nothing Left But Hope, his debut solo album he released on his own Sad Records in 2002. Driven largely by acoustic guitar, D'Angelo's solo work sounds unlike his earlier work with Sister Ray, reflecting his growth.