Hello RWC gang! I hope all of you have started this week on the right foot. If not, I have a couple of things for you this week that I hope will lighten the load a little bit.
When I started this blog, I really kind of intended it to be a way for me to be creative and maybe give an outlet to some up-and-comer musicians. I have been fortunate enough to have been able to do that and so much more. Including things like interview people like this next guy.
Let me preface my blog today with a little anecdote. Paul Brandt and Dean Brody were playing here in Winnipeg. I was walking downtown during my lunch break and who did I see? Dean Brody! What did I say? Absolutely nothing! How ridiculous do I feel on a scale of 1 to 10? A solid 25! And let me tell you why. After talking to him on the phone, there is no way in hell I should have ever been nervous/scared/anxious/had whatever craziness going on inside my head I had to speak to him. He is so calm and kind and in a nutshell…super chill.
Yes. That is right, ladies and gentlemen, I had the opportunity to speak to Dean Brody and review his new album. Let me tell you, when life offers you the opportunity to speak to someone like that again, you take it. He took some time to chat with me about his latest project, Beautiful Freakshow, which releases on October 21 (this Friday).
When you buy a new album, there are a couple of things you are certain of. One is that you like the band, otherwise you wouldn’t have purchased the album in the first place. Another is that you’ve heard one or two songs from it, depending on how many they decided to release as singles before the album dropped. The rest is completely unknown. A gamble, really. You are placing your money on your band to produce music that you are going to like. Now imagine you are the artist releasing that album. Especially when maybe there are a couple of songs on it that stray from convention or their traditional sound. It’s a risk for them. Well then, I guess that when it comes Dean Brody’s latest project, Beautiful Freakshow, you could call Dean a gamblin’ man.
On a first listen, it was easy to see why Brody has won songwriting awards. As a writer, I envy his ability to paint a picture and carry you away with his lyrics. It is masterful. When you go back and really listen to each song, you can hear different genres rolled in to them. After 13 CCMA awards and 2 Juno awards, Dean has obviously developed a formula that works for him. So why stray from that? “For me it’s still the same formula,” he started. “When it comes to writing I can’t sit still and I just try different things. I love different styles.” He admits, “I definitely have a lot of trouble sitting in one spot and writing the same thing over and over.”
Dean says that musically he has a traditional side and an adventurous side. This is something that is obvious on this album. But traditional country fans fear not! He has left plenty of that for you on here. Lyrics like The trouble is | You think you have you time | You think tomorrow’s always coming down the line (“Time“) and I wanna make you see that you still drive me wild | lift you off your feet, put that dimple in your smile (“Memory Lane“) remind us of these traditional roots. “Soggy Bottom Summer” is a fun blend of country and bluegrass with a sprinkling of Canadiana just to remind you of who he REALLY is (Blue Jays on the radio, pass the Old Dutch chips around). As if that isn’t enough, enter “Sargeant” Alan Doyle (yes, the Great Big Sea one). I LOVE that he brings Doyle back! This song is a wonderful testament not only to the beautiful but short Canadian summer, but to Dean’s sense of humour as well. Listen for the amazing bluegrass harmony at the end. Incredible!
So, we have songs like that, songs like the Buffet-esque “Another Saturday Night”and then we have the title track, “Beautiful Freakshow”. Full disclosure: at first listen, I didn’t want it there. I felt like it invaded that country space for me. But I listened to it again and I heard elements in it that I really liked. The more I listen to it, the more I really like this song. When Dean and I were talking about it, he said, “It’s a freak, really.” and he laughed. “It’s definitely not meant to be mainstream.” We discussed his name-checking film director Quentin Tarantino and how the song is very “grindhouse” much like Tarantino’s film style. The song itself is sultry and sexy and includes a phenomenal rap by the very talented Shevy Price from Halifax. It definitely steps outside the box and moves a little in to that hip-hop territory, but you will hear some beautiful spaghetti western whistlin’.
Country girls everywhere will have a new song to raise their fists in solidarity to. I asked Dean if he thought that “8th day” could be a new anthem song from him. “Yeah, maybe.” He replied. “It’s definitely a song that girls are probably going to say ‘That’s me’.” I admitted to being a country girl myself and felt that it resonated. This song is absolutely back in Dean’s pocket. On the 8th day God made country girls. Heck yeah he did! I think he captures our essence and I am sure country girls far and wide will agree. Knowing Dean has a daughter of his own, I asked him if his daughter becomes one of these country girls, will he be the dad waiting out on the porch? Without hesitation he answered, “Oh yeah. I’ve got a shot gun.” Boys, be warned. Mr. Brody’s got his eye on you.
I came across one song that I listened to a couple of times in a row. It was so just so sweet and so soothing – in a Jason Mraz or Colbie Caillat kind of way. Sarah Blackwood joins Dean on “Little Blue Volkswagon”, a tender and melodic love song. Because I am such a fan of it, I asked Dean to tell me a little more about it. “I always thought Volkswagons were kind of cool. They are kind of iconic for the whole beach lifestyle; the gypsy kind of person.” Dean added, “The song is just saying, ‘Hey, you’re really groovy.’ It’s almost kind of like a hippy country song.” Gentlemen. I apologize but I do need to have a girl moment here. Ladies, hearing Dean Brody sing Your still my crush | You’re my one true love is completely swoon-worthy.
If you want a glowing example of why Brody is doing what he is meant to do, then make sure you listen to “Blueberry Sky”. When I hear a church bell ring | We’re running off you’re Grandma’s porch | Barefoot in our muddy jeans | Getting caught beneath that bridge in a thunderstorm. The imagery paired with the dreamy quality of the music made me think of young summer love. Being caught on a country road in a rainstorm. It just felt good. I asked Dean if this song was based on fact or fiction. “A little of both,” he began. “A lot of times when I write a song, I’ll be pulling from my own experience but also put in a little bit of imagination in to it as well.” This song is a little bit special to Dean because country legend Vince Gill played on it. “For me, Vince Gill, musically, is one of my heroes. To have him play guitar was amazing.”
Brody left no stone unturned when it came to genres. the very reggae “Beautiful Girls” is fun and relaxing to listen to. Dean reminds us he is country saying Hop in my truck. The idea is to get lost in a lazy day and this song makes you want to do that…until the end. In a very Marley move, Dean takes us to church, reminding us that peace and love should be at top of mind. This last verse is fantastic. I asked Dean if he thought they would keep it in for radio because I thought it was an important message to hear. He said, “I don’t think it will simply because of time.” He said this was “a little side road we took” when speaking of the song. And I think it was well worth the diversion. Especially when you consider the type of person Dean is. In 2010, The Dean Brody Foundation was started. Dean had read a book written by a British journalist that had spent 7 years in Brazil. “He wrote about how girls are severely exploited especially in rural areas of Brazil.” Dean contacted him and wanted to know what he could do. So he started the foundation. They now have 2 houses in 2 towns and last year they sponsored 55 girls in Covenant Children’s Homes in India. They are currently looking right here in Canada, as well. Husband, father, singer, songwriter, philanthropist. Whew. That’s a hell of a job title.
Dean moved from a sawmill job in B.C. to Nashville. When it didn’t work out, he moved back and went back to that same job. I asked him if he ever in a million years thought he would be in the position he is in right now. “No. Never,” he started slowly. “I feel very fortunate in life and that I get to do what I love for a living and that I have fans who will go on that journey with me because I am different and unorthodox and sometimes I think that could hurt me. But my fans seem to go along and they’ve had a lot of fun going on these musical experiences and experiments with me so I love it. It’s a great life and I am very thankful to my fans for giving me that.”
Wondering what men like Dean Brody take pictures of on their cell phones? “I took a picture this morning of a car (I may post this on Facebook) that has been parked underneath where pigeons have been sitting! It’s covered in shit!” As we were killing ourselves laughing, he added, “There’s an egg on top of the car! That’s the kind of thing I take a picture of.”
You MUST run out and get Beautiful Freakshow by Dean Brody out on Friday October 21 (THIS FRIDAY)! It is an incredible example of his creative vision. Visit his website (www.deanbrody.com), Facebook (@DeanBrody), Twitter (@deanbrody) and Instagram – although keep in mind I am not sure what kind of photos you’ll see (@deanbrody). Here is the hit that has already been released from this album “Bush Party” by Dean Brody: the man who colours outside the lines.