Five years ago, I found myself at the Live Oak listening to a young singer-songwriter named D. Anson Brody beat the heck out of an acoustic guitar and belt out songs with the most powerful voice I’ve ever heard.
He finished one of his songs, “Start Again,” and there was dead silence in the room. Then a woman gasped “Oh, my god!” and the audience erupted in applause.
Brody seemed to be well on his way, having toured the U.S. and picked up endorsement deals from Taylor guitars and Bose sound systems. Then personal issues sidelined him.
“Everybody has their problems and personal tragedies and things that happened,” he explained recently. “I kept trying to hold on, and just really wasn’t doing well. I stepped back and tried to get back on my feet — try to [get] help with mental health stuff and just be better. Different stuff hit me hard. ... It just slowly went away. Now I’m feeling strong and so I want to come back.”
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Indeed, talking to Brody there was a discernable difference in the man. He seemed happier, more determined and more at peace than the last time I sat down with him.
Brody has lived the vagabond musician’s life, touring, playing, and once even taking on a 1,000 mile tour across the U.S. on foot. Search YouTube for his videos and you’ll find footage from places across the U.S., where other people were as in awe of his performance as I have been every time I’ve seen him perform. But for the past few years, he’s settled into running sound at the Motor Lounge, playing the occasional show every month or so and working on his new album.
“I think what’s shocking about it is that it’s essentially my stage show,” Brody said. “The whole album is about perseverance and resurrection. I made a whole record with a band, and killed it — I didn’t like it.
“Part of what makes me good was getting lost. So, I did a record that was completely solo, re-spent a bunch of money on real studios and real gear — it sounds incredible. It’s the first project I could put a full stamp of approval [on]. I’m so proud of it, I can’t wait, but I have to because I want to have a little bit of promo behind it.”
Brody is constantly writing new material. One of the songs he did recently is called “I’ve Been Okay.” The lyrics are on his website, but the last verse really struck me:
I just wanted to put pen to paper
Clear some cobwebs from mind
I hope it’s a full life you’re living
I’ll end my letter simply
asking PLEASE don’t regret me
Please don’t regret me
A D. Anson Brody show is a master class in dynamics. He switches instruments just about every song — getting the right sonic tool for the job — and his playing is dramatic, percussive and flawless. The man’s voice will swells from that of a normal, emotive folk singer to a raging ball of energy. To appreciate it, you have to be in the right environment.
“Dynamics are a big part of my playing,” he says. “It’s difficult to have dynamics in a really noisy space — it’s one of the things that’s pulled me away from bars a lot. In a really noisy space having dynamics means you’re loud, and then nobody can hear you. I’m trying to find places where I can be heard. People don’t have to be dead quiet but it’s a big strength of mine so I need somewhere I can use that strength.”
The new album is scheduled to be released in February. I’ll be first in line to get this one.