A man at the crossroads: it's an oh so common theme to music of a Southern distinction. But what awaits on the other side? What kind of push and pull does a choice bring with it, after it's been made? It's a question that lies at the heart of the personal narratives that inhabit Andrew Bryant's fifth release, Galilee
Written and recorded at home in a small town in Northern Mississippi, Galilee
came to be in the months following the birth of Bryant's son in February 2008. Having taken the summer off to both stew on and adjust to his new found, domestic responsibilities, the ten songs that inhabit the album, by his own admittance, are "definitive of [Andrew's] life and the conditions in which he writes and records his songs".
Those conditions, it seems, are the end result of "Galilee"; a time, a place, a turning point. It's also the appropriate place to begin the album, as Bryant cruises on a cool surge of crunchy guitar chords, hazy jangle-set riff work, and the heaviest handed rhythms ever heard from this historically somber songwriter. Singing, "I was a man, a man you see until you got your hands on me/I was a man, a man you see until you took me down to Galilee", Bryant sets the scene for the moment something in his world changed. Funny he should suggest he was a man before
he was whisked off to Galilee. Perhaps a steady grip on the world was shaken just a bit in the aftermath?
Of course, that's generally the initial impact of a life changing moment. Fear, uncertainty, apprehension; big choices (which I presume is what "Galilee" represents) - a home, a wife, a child - can bring unknowing realities and tough responsibilities along with them, and on Galilee there are moments where one can hear hesitation in Bryant's quivering vocals. Take the warm wash of reverb that is "He Started To Run", for example. Singing "He traded his love to a teenage girl to carry for him a song/But she gave it up to the holy ghost/And he started to run", Bryant reveals some vulnerability and fear, in a way, and the result is nothing short of holy.
But Bryant also convinces listeners that all is exactly as it should be as well. During the slow, masculine plod of "We're Not That Old", the songwriter assures his companion that "We're not that old/We're just acting our age", and in "Is Life Not For Living", the Mississippi man pleads for taking things as they come ("These things happen (in reference to ships sinking, bombs exploding, etc)/It's not even a question/Is life not for living?").
All of which suggests Bryant is
the man he questions himself to be at the onslaught of Galilee
. Despite his own hesitations, Bryant sounds equipped for the family life. Reference his stirring mind in "Chicago Wind" if you don't believe it ("I passed out on his couch with a whiskey bottle in my hand/tossing and turning about the money I just spent"). Responsibility, it seems, weighs heavily on Bryant's mind, suggesting Galilee - the crossroads - provided the opportunity to weigh a decision he'd been destined to make his whole life. - David Pitz
MP3: Andrew Bryant - "He Started To Run" (Galilee)
Andrew Bryant on Myspace