Brandon Rhyder - Every Night
In many ways the work of a critic is the easiest in the business. You get to write, without much consequence whatsoever, your interpretations of an artist’s work, most of which will never be read by the artist himself, and therefore affects his work with about as much significance as that of the opinion of a mainstream radio personality who will never play his songs. Creativity drives enthusiasm, but negativity is fun to read, and to write at times, and sadly those who do determine the success — or failure for that matter — of the aforementioned thrive on such. Fortunately for me, I have seldom been faced with the issue of writing that which might be seen as unfavorable, to an artist, regarding a work that he has produced; assuming that artist might happen upon and read it. I’m not sure if it is a shortage of negative criticism on my part, or a surplus of extraordinary talent circulating, although I suspect it to be the latter.
Brandon Rhyder is a musician’s musician, in other words he is as much a fan of the music as he is an artist. His sincerity and believability both on and off the stage put him into a category apart from so many of his counterparts. Relatively young in his musical life span, he performs and creates in a way that is truly accepted and genuine in its nature. When he handed me a copy of Every Night after an interview just 12 short days before its release date, I sincerely hoped that I would hear it with as much enthusiasm as he showed talking about it with me, and I wasn’t disappointed. Make no mistake about it, if you are looking for rowdy beer-drinking songs or a little ‘t and a’ pass this one up. It does, however, absolutely hit the mark on what Brandon was trying to do with it, and that is to cross over the musical boundary, and venture into fresh waters. Brandon told me in our interview that he knew he had done exactly what he wanted to with this record, and listening to it, that is if you are truly able to listen to it, you will understand exactly what he means.
There is a sense of power and urgency in every track, that is exuberant of Rhyder’s own self-coined phrase “ourstream,” which means, basically, and quite literally our stream. Not mainstream. The opening track is a rework of a song originally appearing on Because She Loves Me one of Rhyder’s previously released albums, and is a refreshing update. It is a powerful way to open up the record, and although not chosen as the first single, most definitely has possibilities in that area. Radney Foster, who both produced the record and co-wrote two of the 12 tracks appears here on acoustic guitar, as he does on an additional five tracks to follow, including the title track, “Every Night.”
Two tracks stand out to me as what you might call “classic Brandon Rhyder.” “Fingers to the Bone” has already become a live show constant, and “Old Red Door” will probably be the second single off of the record. Both have that “lived-in” feel that I like to talk so much about with Brandon. The second describes a perfect night, which somehow at some point bleeds into morning showing Rhyder’s mortal side, which we sometimes forget that these guys have. The opening line of the “kind of night that you never want to end” is repeated at the end of the song after a description of the perfect recipe for the world’s worst hang around, and as the song closes, you can almost begin to feel that old familiar pang as you hide your own eyes from the piercing first light of day.
“This Ain’t It” is right on for the choice of the first single for this record. The flow of the record to this point is exactly as intended, as Rhyder says he likes to take a show to an “absolute eclipse and then slam it back down and do a ballad.” The record could easily end with this song and go out on an incredible high. The feeling is now or never, sink or swim. Listen to it. The answer is clear.
“She Couldn’t Lie Anymore” and “It’s What I do” are two other up-tempo tracks on the record. The first is a catchy play on words and the second is sure to be a crowd pleaser, especially among the ladies. The rhythm section is really strong in both tracks. I especially like the diversity of “When You Wake Up,” because upon first listening to it, it is assumed that it is told from the point of view of the performer, namely, in this case Brandon Rhyder himself, while on the road. But as I listen to it a fourth and fifth time, and even beyond, I am hearing the voice on the other side of the telephone, possibly the women of the story? It is a thought provoking song, even if not intended that way.
Some of the slower paced ballads on the record will speak for themselves, but “Happy Ever After” is especially beautiful with a great deal of the music stripped away to focus on very strong vocals and beautiful harmonies, delivered by Sarah Buxton. Vocally this song is extremely powerful and lyrically, the “I believe...I believe...I believe...I believe on rainy days” series is very moving–and believable.
The title track, “Every Night” is a little different sound for Rhyder, but a welcome advance. The sexy, sultry love song shows a charming side of the man off of the road, but with the same determination and drive that has earned him so much repore. Georgia Middleman delivers perfectly blended vocals.
The emphasis track on the record for me is “Cowboy’s Work”. I’m not quite sure from where inside this song came, although having spent an hour talking with him, I have no question at al as to the sincerity of his character. But even so, to craft a song so true in its meaning and so pure, I am just blown away. The song is, as I told him that day, brilliant. It details the story of the cowboy as the “dying breed” that he is.” If not because this song hits very close to home, then for some other unknown reason, it is by far, my favorite on the album. Brilliant, every line, every concept.
The last ballad on the record, written not for the love of a women, but in fact for the purest love in existence, Ryhder’s own infant daughter. It is the most tender moment on the album, an entire lifetime in the course of a three minute tribute. It will hit almost unbearably close to home for parents with their own little “angels”, whose hearts may actually ache hearing it, and who might realize that in fact, foresight might be 20/20.
One of Rhyder’s most solid works, Every Night will definitely challenge the listener to step beyond his own predefined boundaries, but it is real, it is gold, and it's Brandon Rhyder.