Home Jason's Jukebox The Chat Room: Graham Brown

The Chat Room: Graham Brown

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On his 13th album, Solo, Graham Brown performs in just that manner, showcasing his skills as both a singer-songwriter and guitarist as he’s never done before on record. For the Vancouver B.C.-based artist, the decision to go it alone was made almost as a personal challenge after establishing his reputation as one of Canada’s finest electric guitarists over the past three decades.

On Solo‘s 12 original songs, Graham’s performances both shimmer like early morning sunshine (“Twister Like”), and glow like the dying flickers of a late night candle (“You Are The Stars”). Utilizing just his vintage acoustic guitars, with harmonica added whenever necessary, Graham shows he’s no run-of-the-mill folkie, as the songs are built around uncommon chord progressions, with the emphasis firmly placed on melodies that allow his voice to take full flight.

On tracks like “Because Of You” and “Girl From The Peg,” Graham even sounds like a more mature Alex Chilton circa Big Star’s #1 Record. But with his musical roots stretching back to the dawn of the “cow-punk” movement in the 1980s, Graham admits that he mainly leaned on his love of Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Tom Petty when crafting most of the songs on Solo.

On the whole, that’s meant taking the road less travelled throughout his career. But that road has still brought him and his band around the world, from The Cavern Club in Liverpool and The Marquee in London, to The Roxy and The Troubadour in Los Angeles, along with CBGB in New York City. Capturing that purity in his performances is something that Graham strives for above all these days. While he’s always earned the respect of his guitar-playing peers, with Solo, he makes a solid case for his songwriting prowess as well.

To hear more, go to Graham Brown’s Bandcamp page, or grahambrownsongs.com.

Your new album, Solo, is indeed your first collection of songs with just you and your acoustic guitar. What motivated you to do that at this point in your career?
I’ve always wanted and planned to make a solo acoustic record. As per usual with band commitments, etc., it just took me this long to get to it. I’m always writing songs, so this group of songs basically were calling out to me that they needed to be recorded this way. For me, no matter what, I try to stay true to the music. The song is in charge; I didn’t sit down and say to myself, “Okay, I’m going to write a bunch of acoustic songs.” I was writing some rocking band songs at the same time, and those will be on the next band record. I just felt an aching that these solo songs were a standalone thing, and now was the time.

The songs seem to deal with a wide range of emotions. Are you starting to feel more reflective at this stage of your life, and feel more comfortable channeling that into your songwriting?
I’m not sure if all songwriters feel this way, but for me as a songwriter I’ve always been reflective in thought and always been an observing participant. In conversation or just hanging out, a simple word or action can inspire me — as well as a piece of paper and a nearby quality pen. I think as time goes on we all feel somewhat reflective of the lessons learned on the way through this life. Regarding confidence, I’ve always felt confident to speak my mind and heart in either song or day-to-day life. I feel comfortable in my skin.

Is there anything specific that inspired the album’s first single “You Are The Stars”?
All the songs on the album mean a lot to me, just like every record I make. I put my heart and soul into these songs and performances. I can only hope that people will feel an emotion when they listen, or perhaps the songs can take them somewhere in time or evoke a feeling. Choosing the song “You Are The Stars” as the first single seemed a natural to me. The song evokes love, togetherness, and a search for more self-understanding and reflection of the weaknesses we all have. We are stronger together. To me that sorta covers the feeling of the entire album. Besides that, I think it’s a beautiful song and a superb live performance.

From a guitar playing standpoint, do you take a different approach on acoustic than on electric?
Yes and no. Whether I’m playing electric or acoustic, I let the song speak for itself. I really am just the messenger channeling these songs. Obviously, there aren’t any screaming wah-wah acoustic solos in these songs, although I have done a few screaming wah-wah acoustic things live in the past, and they were a blast. I just didn’t think it was needed here. As I said, the song shows me the lane for the road ahead.

Will you be playing solo shows in support of this album, and what other immediate plans do you have?
Yes, I’ll be doing live solo gigs over the next year or so to support this release. At the moment I’m working with my agent to book shows in Canada and Europe. I’m looking forward to sharing my schedule soon.

 

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Teddy Thompson / My Love Of Country (Chalky Sounds)
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Neil Young / Chrome Dreams (Warner Music Canada)
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