I love when albums come across real and personal. Perhaps it’s the authenticity that oozes from the project, or the artist’s connection to each song that can be felt, or the subtle beauty of actualities that often shines through in the songwriting, but whatever it is, when it’s executed to the extent of Garrett Bryan’s solo debut “Break The Levee”, it captures me every time.
Recorded at Valve Studios in Dallas, TX, the album was produced by Casey Di Iorio (Polyphonic Spree, Blues Traveler, Bowling For Soup) and features nine original tracks, all written and/or co-written by Bryan. With a host of impressive players on the album including Brandy Zdan (lap steel, electric guitar); Michael Jerome (Better Than Ezra, The Toadies) on drums and percussion; Andy Lester (The Blurries) on bass; Jim Cocke (keys);Jordan Tyler Haynes (harmony vocals) and Di Ioria (electric guitar), the project comes out as what can only be described as blue-collar folk rock.
Most notable about the record that’s set for release this Friday (June 29th), is the compelling songwriting that seems to have unbound curves at times, and at other times comes to sharp points. While Bryan’s well-crafted lyrics paint complex characters in interesting places, his idiosyncratic writing style drives each word beyond just the visual. By giving the listener brief, but deep flashes of details, you can’t help but become captivated by what’s unfolding in the song. It’s like watching a Polaroid develop. It doesn’t come linearly. Certain areas and colors develop first before the full picture comes in to focus, often leaving you intrigued with the process and wanting to do it again.
Whether it’s the qualms of small-town life in “Bigger The Expectations””, the gripping tale of murder in “Trinity”, the desolation of a vast landscape in “Alaska”, or the tough experiences of being a young parent in “Damaged Diana”, there’s nothing sanded down or cosmetically concealed. Bryan’s stories often take place on a raw edge, and much like real life, you’re not quite sure if it’s going to get sewn up or come completely unraveled.
Our *PICK* of the album is “Deon, Delray, & Daddy”; a spellbinding tale of a family dealing with a tragic event. Bryan’s vocals of bluesy grit, breathe life into the descriptive lyrics that detail the complexities of the situation. The impassioned delivery and wailing guitar licks take it to the next level and make it a true standout; even amongst an album of impressive songs.
“Your image never leaves my brain,
the picture leaves the frame,
it’s still hanging in the living room
For every ounce of company,
to pile on in and see,
how much I take after you”
We definitely encourage you to grab a copy of the album once it drops this Friday, and for those that are in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, be sure to check out the album release show at Magnolia Motor Lounge! In the meantime enjoy an early listen to our *PICK* of the album below and let us know what you think!
Music addict, a sucker for heartbreak songs, and avid Houston sports fan! I’am also the Editor-in-Chief of Texas Music Pickers.