Over the course of his career, Brad Byrd has written songs that firmly occupy the rarely-explored middle ground between indie rock and alt-country. He's a genre-spanning musician, carving out a diverse sound fueled by melody, detailed storytelling, and the instincts of a journeyman songwriter who began making Americana music long before the genre had a name. Over the course of his career, he’s shared the stage with a variety of musicians, such as Jay Farrar, Mike Doughty, They Might Be Giants, Everlast, Lee DeWyze, and Family of the Year, showcasing undeniable versatility and commitment to his craft. With his fourth album, Phases, Byrd takes a look backwards, reflecting upon the lessons learned throughout his ongoing journey.
On Phases, the muse leads Brad Byrd back to himself. A reflective album filled with textured guitar tones, atmospheric arrangements, and his widest sonic range to date, Phases zooms its focus into various points in Byrd's life, with each song examining the trials and triumphs of that particular moment. On the acoustic "Sunset Girl," Byrd returns to his early adulthood in New York City, singing an ethereal ballad about lost love in the big city. He heads back to Massachusetts with "1982," a nostalgic rock song about simpler times, then travels to Hollywood for "Vampires," a haunted-sounding track about dealing with the temptations of a certain west coast city that can suck out your very soul. By the time he duets with fellow Massachusetts native Kay Hanley on "American Life," Byrd has brought the listener full-circle, no longer focusing upon a bygone memory but, instead, spotlighting the challenges and controversies of the politically-charged present. Together, the 10 songs from Phases sketch a picture not only of Byrd himself, but of the world he inhabits, too.
The journey began in Massachusetts, where Byrd was raised in a creative household. His father and younger brother were both musicians. Looking to further the family tradition, Byrd became a multi-instrumentalist at a young age, playing drums one minute and strumming the guitar the next. He was writing songs by his late teens, inspired in part by the classic sounds — from Beatles records to Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young hits to the Cure — that had filled the Byrd home during his younger years.
While living in New York City during his early 20s, Byrd remained in touch with his former college classmate, Pete Yorn. When Yorn's producer expressed interest in Byrd's own music, the young songwriter began to see some doors open, leading to his first album. Thus began a series of cross-country moves, with each one taking Byrd from one coast to the next in search of new inspiration. Along the way, he's released a string of acclaimed albums and one-off singles, starting with his 2005 debut The Ever Changing Picture — an album that lives on in syndication, thanks to several tracks finding their way onto a handful of television shows — and has continued with releases like his acclaimed 2018 cover of the Cure's "Lovesong."
From the start, Byrd's music found himself planting one foot in the guitar-driven world of indie rock, with the other pointing toward a more rootsy, country-inspired direction. His voice suited both styles, and his hook-heavy songwriting drew a line between them. Inspired by modern trailblazers like Nada Surf, Wilco, Kurt Vile, and Ryan Adams, he blazed his own path, unafraid to chase the muse into unexplored territory.
A songwriting lifer, Brad Byrd has charted his own course since the turn of the millennium. When his record label went kaput after The Ever Changing Picture's release, he started his own (Elusive Tiger), ever-focused on continuing his output. When the garage in his California home became overrun with paintings and music equipment, he transformed it into a public art gallery and performance space. Now, with Phases, he examines the human condition from various perspectives, delivering an amplified rock song one minute and a stripped-down folk ballad the next. This is the next chapter in his story; the next step on his remarkable journey, wherever it may lead.
Andrew Leahey (2019)
“brilliantly engaging and beautiful”
- Indie Band Guru
“…impressively melodic and catchY”
- Live in Limbo
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