By: Brittany Rotondo
Local singer-songwriter Brett Talley has been in the business for over two
decades, making music and producing records with some of Philadelphia’s finest, Outset, including IKE, Xfinity Live! favorites Bangarang and with his solo outfit Brett Talley Band.
This February saw Talley’s release “Perpetual States”, which is the veteran’s first solo album since 2009. The memento of songs comes from a fire-bolt of pivotal life moments. “The album was inspired by five major events in my life: The birth of my son, my 2013 Leukemia diagnosis, divorce, finding new love and the passing of my father.”, exclaims Talley, through a circumstantial story. “I view it as a loose concept album with themes being the overarching stories of birth, death, and rebirth.”
Growing up under the influence of The Beatles and The Beach Boys saw Talley’s musical journey took form in guitar lessons at the long-gone Howard Herbert’s, of the great Northeast. “I was in third grade and started taking guitar lessons on Frankford Avenue. It’s gone now but I owe that place everything… Although, for this album, I was inspired by Tom Petty, The National and Ryan Adams.” It’s safe to pencil that these inspirations have marked the revival of original songwriting, local and palpable in an otherwise auto-tuned verse of audio across the charts. It’s sincere.
“I am always fascinated to learn about people’s lives and their struggles. The human connection is so important. Empathy is important. And it’s really lacking in our society, especially at a time in this world when everything is falling apart. That’s what the song “Soundtrack” is about. “Perpetual States” sees a mix of salient chords and subtle changes, from rock to funk to hooks sweet enough to bite into. A prime example of the range here is the album opener, which introduces a somber “February”, piano and loose change memories, into “Like The Memories, a jangle that weighs a ton. Per Talley, the album was written over a span of six years, seasons and song, alongside drummer and co-producer Jason Miraglia, a major leaguer in his own right. Miraglia most notably played percussion with Philly to Los Angeles bootlegger band: Fat City Reprise. Breaking down the evolution of Perpetual States, Talley is candid with expressive sincerity. “Working with Jay was probably my favorite aspect of making the record. He’s more than a drummer, he writes drum parts with lyrics in mind. He plays exactly what the song calls for and is obsessive about making sure his performance is the best it can be. He is one of the most talented and humble people I know. And he’s also one of my best friends. Jay provided a lot of input on song arrangements and came up with a few ideas that were outside of the box. I couldn’t have made the record without his talents and input.”
Drummer Jason Miraglia details the songwriting process in studio: “I can honestly say that co-producing wasn’t the plan going into this project. But each time we got together, the more we would collectively talk about songs, and sounds, and sections, and the direction a certain song might take. Some songs unfolded quickly and naturally; others were a bit more of a challenge. But all were approached with the same openness. It’s something I’m proud of.” Lead single “Such Love” finds Talley in a Hall and Oates meets Elvis Costello handshake of rhythm and offers a gentle dedication to his son, David. “That song came from music I would play to him all the time when he was much younger, and I would sing silly lyrics just to make him laugh…” The accompanied music video for “Such Love” was recorded by Vin Colella of Colorfield Media and amassed over 2,000 views in just one day.
Inside Brett Talley’s long-standing musical tenure is a body of work just mature enough to capture the simultaneous rebellion of youth and the twinkling and universal experience of adult life: The spark, the 9 to 5’s, the chronology of growth. Ultimately, the good, bad and beautiful.
“It’s the most honest and personal songs I’ve ever put out to the world. But the most important advice in making this record came from musician extraordinaire Michael Leavy. There was a moment towards the end of the record where depression and self-doubt hit me like a brick, and I was ready to just delete the whole record. I had expressed this anxiety online and Mike took the time to privately message me. He put everything into perspective for me and got me to change my mind. He gave me an Andy Warhol quote which is “My job as an artist is to make art. What anyone else thinks of that is none of my business.” I will never forget that.”
Up next on the agenda, Brett and Miraglia will be playing a featured and intimate set at Old City’s infamous Khyber Pass Pub (56 South 2nd Street) It will be the first time these songs will see the light of day in front of a live audience and per Talley, likely the only one.
“I have kind of gotten out of playing originals in the live scene. I have become too jaded and more interested in the opportunities social media provides for getting content out to the masses. I also produce a series called Live from Brett Sounds where I have local artists come to my studio to perform and have a little interview.”
When exploring Perpetual States, there’s a sense of marching absolution. It’s an album of uninhibited emotion and applause for the real world, and assorted walk through time. It’s natural, baby.