Brett Dennen

Western Reserve Folk Arts Association presents

Brett Dennen

Esme Patterson

Sat, July 30, 2016

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

$20.00 - $24.00

This event is all ages

Brett Dennen
Brett Dennen
As common and simple as it is, "por favor" is such an evocative expression. From Spanish, it translates to "please," a word that suggests a need for something, a desire to make a change. "Por favor' was something I kept saying every day in the studio, and I got the other musicians saying it," says Brett Dennen. "We were goofing around, and Dave Cobb, my producer, said it should be the title of my new record. I laughed it off at first, but then I really thought about it."
"When you say please, you're asking something to come into your life," Dennen adds. "It might mean that you're weak and need something to make you strong. But you're admitting to some sort of weakness or some form of humility."
That notion is at the heart of Por Favor, Dennen's intimate and revealing new album that Elektra Records will release on May 20. Produced by Cobb, fresh from his Grammywinning work with Chris Stapleton and Jason Isbell, the record strips Dennen to his core as a songwriter with nothing to hide.
"All these songs came from a time of sadness for lots of different reasons. They came at a point when I wasn't feeling confident about myself," he says. "When I'm not feeling confident, I'm not a nice person to be around. I don't take care of my health, my relationships, my stuff, and it all cycles into a miserable place. And I have a really hard time admitting that I'm in that place."
A followup to 2013's Smoke and Mirrors, his sixth studio album dives deep into loneliness, loss, and love and all its side effects. It's the sound of an artist working through his insecurities in song, and thereby letting go of them. But it's by no means a sad affair, nor is it the "rainyday record" Dennen initially thought he was making.
Often framed by uplifting choruses and bright acoustic arrangements, these songs brim with optimism, the palpable sense that the tide is turning. "And I want to love you for the way you are/ Not the way I am/ So let's go now/ Back to the bonfire where we began," he sings over a chugging groove on "Bonfire."
On "Where We Left Off," the album's emotional powder keg, Dennen lays himself bare over the slack strum of guitar and one of his most unvarnished vocals ever recorded. The opening lines go straight for the jugular: "Everyone knows I'm a happy man/ But I haven't been right."
"Vulnerable was another word that kept coming up when I was making this record," Dennen admits. "Is there something I'm scared to say? Can I dig a little deeper, reveal a little bit more? How far can I go That was my direction, and once I got that in place, I started shooting down things that weren't in that zone."
"I kept telling myself that all I have to do is be authentic and make the songs about the lyrics and how they interact with my guitar," he continues. "I don't have to worry about whether they'll be on the radio or if they're different from my previous stuff."
Holed up at Cobb's Nashville studio, with musicians the producer assembled, Dennen and Cobb worked fast and kept the songs rough around the edges. Dennen appreciated Cobb's insistence on capturing them in just a few takes. "We recorded it the way people made records in the '60s - really fast, all on analog gear, very few rehearsals," he says. "We didn't do anything more than five times. We didn't secondguess ourselves - we just went with it. It's not sloppy, but it's in that right place between loose and tight and feelgood but not labored."
Cobb adds, "I worked with Brett because of his beautiful balance of wit and melody. He's very timeless in his writing and you really can hear his personality in every note he sings. The record was made totally live and we recorded all the vocals live with the band. It really was produced as stopped down as possible - we tried to make every note matter."
More than a decade after his selftitled debut catapulted him to stardom, Dennen was once again attracted to how he made his earliest recordings. "My whole approach was that I wanted to write and sing the songs from the same place that I wrote the first record, which was a place of trying to discover who I am," he says.
That marked a detour from his most recent releases. With those he felt like he was exercising his craftsmanship - "being a songwriter for the sake of being a songwriter," as he puts it. "I really wanted this new album to come across as a whole piece," Dennen says. "I consider it to be a batch of songs that all live together and complement each other."
Which brings us back to the album title. Please.
"What was I asking for with this album" Dennen says. "I wanted to be a good person and feel good about myself again, but in a way that I knew it was OK to be sad. That's part of life, the ups and downs. But with these songs, I want to make people feel good about themselves and about life through the good and bad."
Esme Patterson
Esme Patterson
Sometimes you have to turn off your brain and let your body sing. That's what Esme Patterson did on her third full-length, We Were Wild, set for release on Grand Jury Music on June 10th, 2016. "At its core, rock 'n' roll is where madness and order collide. Where our sexual, raw, animal nature meets our heart and mind. On this album I explored deeper, more far out sonic spaces. I hunted the vibe through vast wilderness," says the Portland-based songwriter.

Her decadal musical career sprang from Colorado's mountains when she co-founded Denver's beloved indie-folk ensemble Paper Bird. After four acclaimed albums and perpetual touring, Patterson set a new course. In 2012, she wove local talents, including Nathaniel Rateliff, into her first powerful, ethereal solo release All Princes, I. Her 2014 release, Woman to Woman, rounded out previously one-dimensional females from popular songs to the praise of The New York Times, The Guardian and others. "Dearly Departed," her hit collaboration with Shakey Graves led to millions of streams, sold out shows nationwide, as well as performances on Conan and The Late Show With David Letterman.

Across We Were Wild, her delicate voice, wry humor, poignant storytelling, and impassioned delivery entwine with fuzzed-out guitars, deep-in-pocket percussion, hints of roots-y country, and a swirling psychedelic hum.

"I needed to paint using more colors," she goes on. "On my past records everything was hyper realistic. I didn't overdub much or fix mistakes. Woman To Woman was basically recorded in a day, and everything was played live. In contrast, the pre-production for We Were Wild spanned over almost a year. Lyrically and musically, I went a little bit more fantasy. Groovy fantasy."

The opener "Feel Right" gallops along on a wiry riff as her voice carries an irresistible refrain. "The song is about the dissonance between the body and the mind," she explains. "You can't understand one extreme without the other. Light can't exist without dark. Until you see contrasted with the other, the two are indistinguishable. They're both necessary."

Elsewhere on the album, "Wantin' Ain't Gettin'" showcases the expanse of her dynamic voice. "No River" flows on a silky beat that gives way to Esmé's soulful delivery, while "Find It" offers up sharp introspection over a delightful groove.

"These songs reflect my life and where I am," she admits. "They also negotiate where I want to be. In the process of writing and recording We Were Wild I now see that I was subconsciously trying to give myself permission to want more, to move forward into the unknown and seek what my spirit needs."

Ultimately, Esmé progresses by embracing exactly who she is.

"I'm always transforming, renewing, living, and growing." she leaves off. "I love the way music can be a companion in life and a tool for transformation. I hope this record can act as a friend for everyone on their respective journeys. A lot of these songs were lessons my heart was giving my mind. I want to share them because maybe they can help others the way they helped me."
Venue Information:
The Kent Stage
175 East Main
Kent, OH, 44240
http://www.thekentstage.com/