Artist: Pieta Brown
Size: ~ 241 mb
Source: Digital Download
Sample Rate: 44.1 kHz / 16 Bit
It was in hotel rooms across the country that Pieta Brown wrote most of the songs on her gorgeous new album, Postcards. Like any touring musician, she was on the road to survive, balancing the rewards of performing music for a living with the challenges of trying to stay connected to loved ones and other artists while in motion. So, when she was finally stationed at home, she decided to send out some postcards. These weren’t just any postcards, though, these were musical postcards, the stripped-down, acoustic shells of new songs she’d written while traveling, and she sent them to folks like Mark Knopfler, Calexico, Mason Jennings, David Lindley, Carrie Rodriguez, Caitlin Canty, and The Pines among others. Her instructions to each were simple: write back.
“These Postcards are about connecting and openness,” explains Pieta. “But, one of the sparks for this project was talking to so many musicians who are dealing with the way the music business has been shape-shifting lately. From people with very successful careers to more underground indie artists just trying to pay the bills, everyone seems to be dealing with this sense of ‘How do we do this?’ and looking for their own answers. I was hoping through experimenting with musical collaborations to keep the conversation going.”
What Pieta created is more than a conversation, though. It’s a striking collection of portraits – sometimes sweet and tender, sometimes eerie and haunting – of characters facing loneliness and longing and loss with a stoic sense of dignity. Her airy vocals, with just a hint of a drawl from a childhood split between Alabama and Iowa, float above rich, earthy texture, fluidly merging grit and grace in what is undoubtedly her finest work to date.
Hailed as a “self-styled poetess, folk goddess and country waif” by the BBC, Pieta Brown first came to international attention with her 2002 self-titled debut. Pieta has since been recognized by NPR for her “moody, ethereal” songwriting, applauded by The Boston Globe for her “mercurial voice” and has continued to gain widespread critical attention for both her singing and songwriting with each release. Wall Street Journal, American Songwriter, and Amazon have all included her albums in year-end, best-of picks. And along the way she has shared stages with everyone from Emmylou Harris and JJ Cale to Neko Case and Richard Thompson, in addition to performing at major festivals like Bonnaroo and Mountain Jam. But maybe even more importantly, to a fiercely independent artist like Pieta, she has received praise and support from many of her fellow artists and mentors – Justin Vernon, Iris Dement, Mark Knopfler, Amos Lee, producer Don Was, and filmmaker Wim Wenders to name a few.
Postcards follows 2014’s Paradise Outlaw, which was recorded at Bon Iver’s April Base studio with help from Justin Vernon (who recently described Paradise Outlaw as “probably my favorite record ever made at our studio”), Amos Lee, and Pieta’s father, Grammy-nominated folk-singer, Greg Brown. But where Paradise Outlaw celebrated the sound of a group of a musicians recording live in a room together, Postcards explores the role of distance and isolation in collaboration. Pieta recorded the basic guitar and vocals for the album, some with frequent collaborator Bo Ramsey (Lucinda Williams, Charlie Parr) in the mix, at a small garage studio near her home before mailing out each track to friends to complete and send back.
“Collaborating with other musicians and elevating a song beyond its outlines has become one of my favorite things about making music,” says Pieta. “I’m interested in what other people can bring to a song, especially musicians I admire. Music is very magnetic. And I have been so drawn to and inspired by all the collaborators inside these Postcards.”