Seeing Alison Krauss finally attain platinum success is heartening even for an artist who lives overseas.
Paul Brady, once hailed “Ireland’s best-kept secret” by Rolling Stone magazine, thinks now is an exciting time in American music. Just look at the diversity of artists in the Top 20 on Billboard’s pop albums chart: country (Garth Brooks, Shania Twain), R&B (TLC, Boyz II Men), alternative (Live, Natalie Merchant, Soul Asylum), rock (Neil Young, Blues Traveler, White Zombie).
“There does seem to be a whole lot of things coming back up through the cracks,” Brady said recently. “That to me is great. The whole idea about music and art in general, it doesn’t have any boundaries. Really, if that’s what’s happening now, it seems to be a fair reflection of what is reality.”
Reality is one thing, but music marketing is another. Brady admits his brand of high-energy, acoustic storytelling doesn’t fit into any marketing formula. It’s been that way all through his solo career, which nonetheless has attracted fans such as Bonnie Raitt (who recorded the Brady-penned “Luck of the Draw” and “Not the Only One”), Tina Turner, Santana and Dave Edmunds.
With his next Fontana/Mercury album, “Spirits Colliding” (due Aug. 8), Brady thinks he has never been more accessible.
“I’m quietly confident about this record and quietly excited about the way the whole musical landscape has changed in the last few years,” he said. “I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m certain it’s going to be a hit (in America), but I’m a lot more confident than with anything I’ve done before.”
For a change of pace, Brady produced the album and took a new approach in recording it.
“I wanted to start off with my own solo performance, either on guitar or piano, as the core of the track and the first thing that went on the tape,” he said. “In the past, we would put down the bass and the drums, and then you put down the keyboards and at the end of it all you have to fit yourself in. By that stage, so much of it was set in stone that there was very little room to maneuver.
“To do this record, I knew I had to go in and stand up in front of a microphone, just belt the song out and then after that see what it needed. Now that I’ve done it this way and see how well it worked, I can’t imagine why I didn’t do it before now.”
“Spirits Colliding” includes collaborations with John Prine and Mark E. Nevin, and Bela Fleck is among the guest performers.