Brett Randell’s Rise
Scott Rowland • September 14, 2015 • Art •
While hearing pop-friendly, catchy melodies that draw attention from the average bar-hopper and music enthusiasts alike, it’s usually misleading to expect insightful, well-thought-out lyrics, let alone original ones. Especially from one man that has something to say with a voice that moves fluently with words that touch the soul.
Characterized by an engaging, yet poised demeanor, Brett Randell, a self-managed, internationally travelled artist, remains confident while delivering his enchanting arrangements. Attributes which are beneficial for a musician who has landed in a music mecca, Denver, to produce and release his third EP Rise. His sound is a fusion of acoustic soul-folk, which lands somewhere between two big influences: the folk wordsmith, Damien Rice, and percussive, fun-loving Ben Harper. His touching lyrics complete his expression as a cohesive exposé of passion.
But where does someone draw from to ignite such vigor? A troubled past? Maybe a recent breakup? Sure. But, Randell pulls from more thrilling experiences, mentioning his tours through Europe and the Mediterranean as sources of inspiration for multiple songs on the new album. Specifically “Ghost”, which he says, “was from my whole adventure when I traveled and played music around Europe, and from the people I met. Leaving people. It’s another parable for life.”
Randell began his career with a precarious question: “Do I go to New York City and work at a big marketing firm or do I become a musician?”
With a confident “yes” to musicianship, Randell embodied the ideal life of ‘a mover and a shaker’. While Austin, TX would serve as a homebase, he spent the next five years touring throughout the U.S., as well as making three trips internationally, stopping in places such as Denmark, Italy, England, Turkey, Guatemala and Greece. His dedication and marketing skills were executed accordingly, considering his shows were entirely self-booked, usually by cold-calling, email or networking with fellow musicians. His goal: to keep playing his songs and connect new fans with music. Which is why someone might assume he moved to Denver for connections and self-promotion.
But, that’s not quite the case. Randell came to Colorful Colorado to follow another dream: fiction writing. He moved to the mountain state to study writing and focus on his novel and collection of short stories. However, that doesn’t mean he ignored the benefits of the local music culture. He is a marketing graduate from the University of Maryland, exceptional guitarist/lyricist, and aspiring writer who understands the gap between starving artist and future professional. Like a true Renaissance man, he constantly presents his range of talents, striving to “be like Da Vinci”.
Throughout the four-year song-writing process for Rise, Randell pulled from multiple sources to finalize the album. Drummer, Ryan Post, helped with the percussive textures on the Djembe; Kim O’Hara added layers of cajon and bass; Daniel Herman of Mineral Sound contributed piano parts, and Austin musicians, Mark Ford and Caleb Hans Polashek, played cello and violin respectively for the album. Family and friends from New York to Texas to Colorado provided aesthetic advice, but they would also become the backing for such an extensive project. To push Rise over the top, Randell enlisted Xandy Whitesel (Bon Iver) at Mighty Fine Productions to mix and record and Robin Schmidt (Ben Howard) from Germany to master the final version, ensuring a high quality production.
After completing a successful Kickstarter (raising over $12,000 from almost 200 backers), time would become an attribute rather than a nagging hindrance that most up-and-coming musicians face. Being able to wait for a guitar riff, the perfect spice to end a song, really allowed the freedom for Rise to come alive. Randell says, “I would wait a year and change a word. Two years later, change the way I picked the chorus. And then, I started meeting other musicians and started layering. It all fell into place.”
Randell’s approach to music is engaging and such a necessary part of successful application. “I never wanted to make regular singer-songwriter love songs,” he states. “I want to make songs that make people think and connect to emotions that they wouldn’t normally think about.” That’s always been one of his biggest draws to music, so when inquired about his intentions, he responded with the question, “How deeply and intricately and in a new way can I play with bringing those deeper emotions out of people?”
The most effective approach, lyrics. Which is one of the most admirable characteristics of Randell’s work. The symbolism in “The Waitress” portrays the warm love that comes from life, traveling and meeting the world outside of your comfort zone, while the self-titled track “Rise” shares, “In a timeless place with no worries or pain, you’ll finally find where love exists. And it can’t be lost, but it can be missed. So open your heart and find your bliss.”
With a solid foundation of touching words and a well-produced third EP, Randell still faces the uncertainty of today’s music market, recently reconfigured by the Internet. The industry has become an ocean of free music, free promotions and free money, limiting success for most musicians, but not necessarily those with drive. Randell describes today’s music world as “a big game” and finishes his thought with some guidance for the tough road: “How do you carve your way through it? What can help… is the mindset of artists and musicians to view it as fun”.
By listening to Randell’s finesse on the guitar as he picks for percussive flare, matched with a tasteful folky, acoustic aesthetic, you can’t help but fall into his charming presentation. If there is a way to engage the listener on and off stage while expressing yourself in a manner that is awe-inspiring, Randell has found the trigger to a newfound fascination for the singer-songwriter. He’s an architect of the contemporary music world where artists don’t just need to perform well, but also need to promote themselves in a reverent and sophisticated fashion.BrettRandell.com Buy Rise on iTunes Scott McCormick Ian Glass