“Dave Cobb’s honesty and old-fashioned vibe were so appealing to me,” Bronson says. “They leant themselves to the way I created. And, of course, it was a huge boost to have this great artist/producer at your back.” Cobb and Bronson had worked together previously on his 2014 release, Eliot Bronson. “But this album is different,” Bronson points out. “It’s more sparse and economical. My voice is stronger. And I think it’s a step away from the purely Americana vibe of the last one in a direction that I have a hard time defining. I’m excited to discover how this music will define itself. I'm immensely proud of this record. It’s the best thing I’ve done. I can’t wait to share it with everyone.”
James offers songs that are more like pictures than movies, capturing moments and digging deeply into their meanings. A stomping beat, raw harmonica and searing electric slide drives the opening track, “Breakdown In G Major,” followed by a selection of songs that only confirm Bronson’s restless, escalating excellence.
“Good Enough,” for example, captures a relationship in its final stage — a stage that may end tomorrow or stretch on for years. Bronson sings it sorrowfully, asking the rhetorical question of whether “‘good enough’ is good enough for you” from this point. “When I stumbled onto that line, I was like, ‘That’ll probably stick,’” he says. “But I think the song really came from the first line, ‘Were we really that young?’ Sometimes it takes just one line to resonate with me and get me to start writing.”
Then there’s “The Mountain,” whose elusive grandeur delivers a powerful message but leaves it to the listener to parse its meaning. “There’s a very literalist current in writing and music right now,” Bronson observes. “There aren’t a lot of layers to lyrics these days. It’s just what you see on the page. So when you don’t write that way, you get, ‘What are you hiding?’” He laughs and then concludes, “I don’t look at it that way. For me, it’s more about how you feel when you hear it. What does it do for you? That’s the message!”
One more, “Rough Ride,” is a departure for Bronson. Here, the meaning is clear: When 25-year-old Freddie Gray fell unaccountably into a coma in the back of a Baltimore police van, much of America expressed shock and outrage. So did Bronson, but he channeled those emotions into this song. “I had mixed feelings about writing this because I don’t like inserting my political or social beliefs into art,” he explains. “Art should be about connecting people, not drawing lines between them. But I was listening to Dylan’s Desire album at the time, especially ‘Hurricane.’ I always wanted to write a song like that. It was like, ‘How can you tell a story almost journalistically with great emotional impact and yet not come off heavy-handed?’ I wanted to see if I could do it. Now I’m glad I did.”
Originally from Baltimore, Bronson grew up in a religious household – both his father and grandfather were Pentecostal ministers – and Bronson found shelter in music. At age 15, he got his first guitar and started teaching himself to play. From local coffee houses and venues beyond Baltimore, Bronson sharpened his writing and performance. A local following grew; the Baltimore Sun anointed him “a folk singing wunderkind.” Expanding his range, Bronson then toured as one-half of a duo. They moved to Atlanta, and when his partner quit, Bronson persisted on his own.
Embraced for his 2014 self-titled album by the likes of CMT Edge, Country Weekly, Guitar World, Sirius XM’s Outlaw Country, Acoustic Guitar Magazine and more, Paste Magazine called Bronson and his music “an Americana gem” and “a poetic blend of urban coffee house and outskirts-of-town saloon.” Glide Magazine named the album “one of the best releases” of 2014 and called Bronson “a rock and roll, folk, country mash-up … [with] strong songwriting and lush vocals. …Eliot Bronson is like a gorgeous, magnificent hybrid of [Ryan] Adams, Jason Isbell, and Jim James. …his songs are so purely authentic and well crafted…” Saving Country Music praised Bronson for “capturing moments of spectacular insight and feeling, and giving words to what previously were thought to be unmentionable, and undefinable feelings, and doing it all with a deep sense of mood and melody that make the emotions drip from the edges of the notes like tears.” Bop n Jazz upped that ante by heralding him as “maybe the best singer/songwriter since Dylan.”
Bronson has released three critically acclaimed solo albums and, prior to his solo career, was a member of The Brilliant Inventions. He has won such esteemed songwriting awards as first place at Chris Austin Songwriting Contest at MerleFest and Eddie Owen Presents “Songwriter Shootout,” and he’s been a finalist at Kerrville Folk Festival, Rocky Mountain Folks Fest Songwriting Contest, and New Song Contest Lincoln Center NYC.
Bronson plans to tour in support of his new album. Confirmed tour dates are listed below. More tour dates will be announced soon.
Eliot Bronson Tour Dates:
Sat 6/24 – Eddie’s Attic – Decatur, GA (two shows opening for The Roosevelts)
Sat 7/1 – The Bluebird Café – Nashville, TN (in-the-round w/Michael Logen + others)
Thu 7/6 – Camp House – Chattanooga, TN (w/Michael Logen)
Fri 7/7 – Open Chord – Knoxville, TN (w/Michael Logen)
Thu 7/20 – Country – Nashville, TN (in the round)