'It's Elemental, My Dear Dennen'
Every now and then an artist emerges on the scene as if fully formed. The voice is distinct, immediate in its character. The songs feel like they truly belong to the singer. A level of self-possession animates the performances, delivers them right to your doorstep. Nothing feels forced . . . it just is. There's an aura of inevitability that surrounds the emergence of such artists.
With the release of So Much More, Brett Dennen joins the ranks of those who fit this description. Others? Joni Mitchell. Rufus Wainwright. James Taylor. Patty Griffin. Steve Earle. John Mayer. Its a class of artists defined not by genre or by a level of success but by the character of their entrance.
We open the door when they appear, and its as if we were expecting them. No doubt, none of them have wanted to be described in such weighty terms. But its not up to them. Its up to those of us on the receiving end to pass such judgments and to celebrate the occasion. In this case, I'm happy to do so. Welcome, Brett Dennen. Were glad you showed up. Come on in.
Chatting recently with Brett, and noting that it had been stated in his press that influential station KCRW (Santa Monica, CA) had said that he had
"generated more phone calls that anything played all year," I first wondered what a humble person like himself put that down to? "There are a lot of good hearted people in Los Angeles who know truth when they hear it. My music touched them because it's honest. Most people relate to the same things I do. Basically I am telling everyone in the world that there are a lot of kind and caring good people in LA."
Having also had your music described as "bare bones aesthetic coupled with an elemental funk," I'm wondering just where one finds such an inner musical level to work upon in these troubled times of ours in the first place?! "Well, I get inside my inner elevator and go down past the lobby, and the parking structure, until I get to the inner music level. down there is where I keep all the good stuff. Old pinball machines, Michael Jordan posters, a life size cardboard stand up of Han Solo. My words and melodies only fit in a bare aesthetic because I can only communicate the feelings I have inside. I'm pretty raw on the inside. If I am gonna write about how I feel about the world and myself in it, then it better come from deep within, and deep inside of me there ain't no pop singer. My words come across better when they are sung in a conversational tone or like a narrative."
For the Average Joe who may not have heard of you and was thinking of buying the new CD, how would you yourself describe your sound? "I'm like Mark Wwaine with Pablo Neruda's guitar, Twila Tharpe's fingers, and Vincent Van Goghs voice."
Your album title 'So Much More' is an interesting choice, but perhaps it originates from a more personal standpoint for you? "It means that something very simple carries more meaning than you could ever possibly understand."
If there was one track on this new album that truly encapsulated Brett Dennen at his musical and lyrical finest, which one would it be? "There is so much more."
With lyrics that are right up there with Paul Simon, Bob Dylan and other such notables, where do such musical thoughts originate for you and are they always easy to put down on paper and reflect back on at later times? "They pop out of thin air. They are not always easy to put down. They are quick slippery little buggers. They always have a lot more meaning when I look back upon them later."
Noting that your debut self-titled record features cover art that was actually created by you, I'm wondering if any of the artwork on this new CD is yours also? "All of it is my own."
If you could cover any '80s (possibly cheesy!) pop song, which one would it be ... and why?! "'Billy Jean.' Because I can do some of the dancing, in my own sort of gangly knobby kneed way!"
Lastly, I like Penguins ... do you?! "Well, penguins are the tuxedoed torpedoes of the arctic waters. I could see myself marching with them surrounded by thousands, waddling with headphones on listening to Devo!"
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
If you would like to win an AUTOGRAPHED copy of Brett's new CD, just answer this easy question: The first track off of 'So Much More' is "Aint No Reason," and opens with only the sounds of Bretts guitar and voice. His guitar playing has been noted as being a hybrid of finger picking and soul-inspired rhythm with shades of which famous Robbie and which famous Ry aplenty?!
Send me your answers and if you're correct you'll be in the running to win one of these great AUTOGRAPHED CDs! Just send us an e:mail here before November 15th with your answer and the subject title 'CONTEST: BRETT DENNEN SIGNED CDs' to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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