Brannon – Everyday Heroes – Album Review
Some people are just born with a gift of understanding songwriting & knowing where to find the melody at the heart of it all…and Brannon has definitely proven to be one of those artists with that level of natural talent throughout the years. You’ll hear it for yourself though…it’s right there on display, I can promise ya that – and you’ll notice it right from the drop right on “I’m Alive.” One of those cases where the moments where he’ll sing vocalizations without words for the first half of his chorus…that’s where you can hear the organic nature of the melody he’s rockin’ right down to its fundamentals. Dude does the us-against-the-world vibe extremely well…you’ll notice that intimate & isolated feelings tend to be written into the fabric of many of Brannon’s tunes…but perhaps that’s what makes them connect as strongly as they tend to do. “I’m Alive” was an excellent start to Everyday Heroes…and no matter how many times I spun my way through this album over the past week or so, hearing him surge into the inspiring harmonies and sweetened vocals of this first tune always stood out. There’s an uplifting energy that he brings to “I’m Alive” that seems to really draw out the positive spark in his demeanor & songwriting…you can hear the production, performance, confidence, execution…all the right stuff is there, and from the very first cut on-forward, you can definitely rely on the quality of Brannon, 100%.
And have no fear folks – “Let It Go” is in fact, NOT a cover of the Disney-movie mega-hit…though it’s probably impossible not to be buried by an avalanche of children doing their own renditions of a song with the same name as the second cut on Brannon’s Everyday Heroes out there in the online world. Better yet…hopefully more than a few people out there click on this title just out of sheer curiosity, and discover a song that’s got much deeper meaning & depth to it. So many of the songs that you’ll hear from Brannon have intensely personal connections but relatable presentation…and if you ask me, in examples like “Let It Go,” he’s writing straight-up important words that many people NEED to listen to. “Let It Go” is one of those tunes that I hear and completely appreciate how it can go on to help a whole bunch of people out there through the wisdom of his words…and if you know even one iota about the man behind the music, you know he’s sincere in what he’s singing about. “Let It Go” deals with the perception of others from the outside, and yourself from the inside…”there’s only one life to live, and you get what you give” as Brannon himself will tell ya…and it’s probably best we all make the most of it. He’s written more than a few fantastic lines into the lyrics of “Let It Go,” and the sentiment resounds – it’s like when you’re listening to this song, you genuinely understand just how on-point his observations & perspective are here…and he sings it all with conviction strong enough to convince a person even at their lowest. That’s what great music & songwriting is really all about y’all…the ability to move hearts & minds; in my opinion, that’s what a song like “Let It Go” proves Brannon is more than capable of doing.
“Ghost” is a fantastic example of Brannon’s songwriting at its most focused. Interesting tune all-around really…and almost surprising to hear it in such a quaint version. When you listen to Brannon’s music, you’ll always notice he’s got the potential to go bigger-than-big…he’s got a ton of influences in the BIG Rock sound…and you can hear that in how many of these songs are structured, even when he’s in a more subtle gear like you’ll discover him in on “Ghost.” You add a full band to this cut and you’ve probably got yourself a show-stopping power-ballad at the end of the day – but I’m inclined to vouch on behalf of the more intimate performance he brings to this tune; or this record for that matter – Brannon keeps this album in full control & acoustically-based. Thematically, he’s diving right into one of my favorite subjects to dig into in music and life…which is that feeling that some memories & people you meet will continue to haunt you in multiple ways long after they’re gone. If you wanna, sure, you can go the supernatural route and take it that way if you’d like to…but it’s not really about that kind of haunting – spiritual, yes, but still different. What makes this element of human existence so fascinating to me is that we often crave it just as much as we might hope it’ll cease one day…it’s like a special kind of hurting that you seek out sometimes, if that makes any sense. Because however painful some of those memories might be, chances are there’s still a whole bunch of beauty to be found along with’em – and hence that push/pull dynamic that works so incredibly well in tunes like “Ghost.” You can hear Brannon pleading for this “Ghost” of his past to leave him be…but deep down inside you have to question whether or not he, or any of us for that matter, would ever really want that to happen…these memories, these moments, these people we once knew & loved…they all become pieces of the people we are now.
While “Everyday Heroes” becomes the moniker and guiding theme for Brannon for this particular record, you’ll find that it doesn’t permeate each & every song as much as you might have thought before pushing play. It’s not to say the theme wouldn’t be able to be shifted around and somewhat justified on a case-by-case basis for each track…but when you hear the words of the title-track, you’ll realize what’s a more personal tune, what’s a crafted cut that sounds great, and what’s really about “Everyday Heroes” by comparison for sure. For everything I’ve personally read on his social-media feeds over these past…oh say…three & a half years or so…hearing “Everyday Heroes” makes me proud just to be listening to Brannon and keeping an eye on his pages. The man’s got an incredible heart, and he’s written that into this tributary tune that celebrates the efforts of those on the front-lines that tend to trudge through each and every day helping others without getting half the recognition they deserve. The best way I can sum up the experience of listening to Brannon’s title-track is that, I’ve heard a lot of socially-aware cuts over these past…oh say…yep…three & a half years or so…and this would be right up there with the cream of that crop without question…”Everyday Heroes” is one of the better examples of what life is like in the present day than the majority you’ll hear. It’s a selfless song that highlights just how much so many go through for us all to live so easily…about the best of the best of us all, out there doing what they can…not because they’re in it for the money, but because it’s the right thing to do. Ultimately, I think “Everyday Heroes” is one of the greatest concepts he could have chosen to work around and be inspired by. I ain’t lyin’ to ya when I tell ya that Brannon is one of my own “Everyday Heroes” – I consistently see this guy fighting for the light in a world trying to be consumed by darkness; and creating songs like this one are all the proof you need to know he’s got his heart in the right places.
“I’ll Carry You With Me” is a solid tune with bold emotions that definitely fits strong on a thematic level. This is much more about honoring the fallen & those that have departed by living the best life we can and keeping the values & teachings of those we once loved in life close at hand, even after they’re gone. Chances are, you’re doing this very thing right now…think about your own world, people you’ve looked up to & admired…the people that have guided you, shaped your perspective, and encouraged your path through this life…these are the kinds of thoughts & emotions we’re all carrying inside of us somewhere. Think of it this way…in the context of this record, you could almost look at “I’ll Carry You With Me” as providing you with the opposite perspective that you get on much of “Ghost” – and rather than try to push away the presence of a memory, this time you find it full welcomed. And rightly so…in both cases actually…like I said in talking about “Ghost,” that push/pull dynamic quite often exists and is fully justified…sometimes it’s a welcome feeling, sometimes it’s so much harder to deal with. In the case of “I’ll Carry You With Me,” we’re in the positive-side of that whole scenario, and both lyrically & musically, this cut provides one of the more beautiful experiences you’ll find between its sound & sentiment.
On “Home,” Brannon will remind ya just how important it is to have that stable ground in life – and quite often, that comes from the roots of where we came from all along. The comfort of “Home” can be so significant in times of trouble & emotional turmoil – and that’s ultimately what Brannon is singing about on this tune. The majority of the words are spent on what tends to send him running for “Home,” but the chorus will provide the virtual answer to the scenario he sets up in the verses he’s written. And while this might somewhat depend on how the ol’ home-life, nostalgia, and family relationships have presented themselves to you in life – like for example, “Home” would send me running in the other direction 9.9 times out of 10 personally – the concept of finding that place where you always belong is certainly not beyond me, or any of us. If anything, it’s been a fictional myth for most of my life, but a concept I always aspired to find a way to understand like I knew so many others did from being born into more ideal circumstances. For me, “Home” eventually became wherever my wife and I end up together…and that’s all I’ll ever need it to be. “Home” in general, wherever that place is for you, is that comforting place of acceptance where the walls come down and you can just be yourself in all your glory – it’s the place you’ll crave if you’re ever away from it too long, and Brannon nails these concepts here.
One of the things that’s rad about the concept of Everyday Heroes overall…is that one of those Everyday Heroes, might even be YOU. When you listen to “The Best Of Me,” you’ll hear a brilliantly written tune that puts an emphasis on the role we play in each other’s lives…and just how important it is to be present and ‘there’ for the people we love, in every way we can be. It’s a song about giving life your 100% and doing the best you can in all situations, and never giving up…you know we’ve got love for concepts & themes like these here at SBS. “The Best Of Me” is about being that rock for someone else when they need it most…and through one of Brannon’s most exceptional & captivating performances on Everyday Heroes, he brings the spark required to capture the pure essence of the energy he’s singing about. Acoustic records can be tough to examine in terms of what could be the best cut to put out there as a single…but I’d be inclined to have a good look at “The Best Of Me” as another gateway into Everyday Heroes…these hooks are certainly some of the most memorable, and Brannon really sounds ALIVE on this tune. Not saying he doesn’t in the rest as well…but you get the best of HIM on the “The Best Of Me” as well…which…I mean, again, this is what great songwriting is all about…tying in the concept & theme with a performance that echoes the sentiment. It’d be a little bit more than strange if “The Best Of Me” ended up being the cut that Brannon somehow shat the bed on don’t you think? He’s risen to the occasion when it comes to the challenge of leading by example…if you’re listening to the words of “The Best Of Me” closely folks, I promise ya, you’ll find the keys to some brighter tomorrows.
It’s funny how music can work sometimes. If you were to ask me about the guitar on “Just You And I,” I’d be willing to give it a pass…I ain’t gonna lie, on that level, it’s a little less fluid & smooth as some of the rest by comparison, even when it’s just the one acoustic guitar driving the song. If you were to ask me about the vocals, I’d probably tell ya it’s one of the better performances from start to finish – and that overall, “Just You And I” ends up being one of the most satisfying tracks on the album as a result of Brannon’s singing. So ya see what I’m saying? Sometimes even though there might be an element of a song that might not fully gel with ya doesn’t mean there isn’t a whole bunch more there that’s completely worth your time. To his credit, it’s extremely tough to make an acoustic record where the music is going to be the stand-out factor track-after-track, and when it comes to Brannon, it’s always the melody & songwriting that gain his favor & focus more than anything else…which is A-OK with me. It’s not like you’ll hear “Just You And I,” make that face you make & reach to turn it off…that’s not what I’m saying at all; I’m simply explaining there’s a difference you can hear in this particular tune that doesn’t seem to present itself in any of the other cuts I found in the lineup of Everyday Heroes. Certainly not opposed to it, the songwriting is still bang-on and Brannon’s vocals are as inspired & upbeat as you’d hope to hear in effort to support the uplifting words he’s written into the chorus of “Just You And I.”
Sometimes Brannon just nails those harmonies of his with such perfection that it gives you that authentic shiver down your spine…the kind you get when you know in your soul that you’re hearing something special…and I felt like I got that as he surged into the melodic & bold cut called “So Blind.” The man has a tendency to write songs with exceptional doses of contrasting emotions, drifting between the dark & the light, but quite often landing on the positive side of the fence when it comes to the sentiment of his songwriting at the heart of it all. “So Blind” has him leaning towards the dark side in a more exposed & vulnerable moment…and when he sings this one, it’s like you can feel an entire layer peel away right in front of you, revealing a different mood from Brannon than you might expect. As opposed to songs like “Ghost” and “I’ll Carry You With Me,” it’s actually Brannon himself that becomes the memory on “So Blind” as he closes a chapter or two and puts a few things in his rearview as he continues to move on & rebuild after heartbreak. I feel like you can hear that the subject matter of “So Blind” is even closer to home this time around…that this hurt Brannon is singing about is real without question, and he’s made that choice to put it out there, raw, honest, and unfiltered. Writing a song like this isn’t about getting some sort of lyrically maniacal revenge or the final word in on a failed relationship…it’s about the healing process…sometimes you just gotta say what you feel and let the chips fall where they may. Love is not an easy game to win by any stretch of the imagination, and it definitely takes a couple rounds of playing it before you even understand the concept to begin with – and even then, just because we’ve reached that point personally, doesn’t at all mean the other person involved has. “So Blind” is a reminder of just how tough it can be to see things from the other side.
You’ll love this. Imagine you’re like me…and you’re listening to “With You” for the very first time and coming to some sort of assessment about what you hear. You’re about two-minutes in before it dawns on you – “HEY! This is one of the record’s inarguably best tunes, ain’t it?” And THEN…less than 20 seconds, Brannon lights up the album with one of the raddest spots on all of Everyday Heroes with his instrumentation for a brief-but-magical moment. That’s when I laughed out loud, realizing that he already had me at hello on “With You” – and then somehow, he just decides to make sure there’s no turning back on that conclusion only seconds after I had made it, audibly confirming I was 100% right to feel the way I was. I made a case for “The Best Of Me” to be a single earlier on in this review…and if that’s the reality, then “With You” deserves just as much to have its hat in the same ring – this is a highly accessible cut with a ton of uplifting vibes people are sure to like, love, or completely adore. I’m not immune to the accessibility & sweetness to be found here at all…I’d be right there among the legions of you out there that I’m sure will draw to the same conclusion that this is one of the album’s very best.
Lyrically, I think he’s all-aces on “Hold On To Me” and found an incredible balance between finding a solid selection of interesting words that still have the ability to say what he really wants to say. “Hold On To Me” takes a hard look at anxiety and how the words & actions of others can affect people that have to deal with that affliction. I’d be included in that…and I appreciate the stoic strength you find in the reassuring words Brannon’s written into this tune. “Life can seem scary when you’re barely hanging on, and it can seem unnecessary when you think you don’t belong” – what a remarkable set of lines! Insightful stuff all-around when it comes to what Brannon’s singing about on “Hold On To Me” – it’s the kind of perspective that can’t be faked; either he’s experienced this all himself, or he’s definitely very close to someone that has struggled with truly crippling anxiety. He perfectly describes what I’ve personally felt so many times myself, and what I’d imagine many of us do…those times where everything is off course and it feels like there’s no way to find your way back to a path of stability or certainty…you need to hold on to SOMETHING if you’re gonna make it through. And so, in the absence of having a physical copy of Brannon in your life, just in case, he’s written this song…hold onto these words of wisdom instead…know the calm will come eventually after the storm subsides once again.
Is he STILL wrestling with doubt? I was sure he’d have figured it out by now…”On My Way,” was after all, released as a lead-single in advance of this record back in April…should be enough time in between now and then to have sorted out all of life by now Brannon, no? Alright, alright…I suppose it’s unfair to just assume the lyrics would have changed even if that were the case…which…I mean…it’s likely not…is it for any of us? I’m still figuring all this stuff out myself and I’m in my fourth decade on this floating rock we call home; I just assume we’re all the same in that respect…and it’s songs like “On My Way” that make me feel not so alone in the confusion. So thanks Brannon, I appreciate you brother! What I can tell ya is this…”On My Way” adds undeniable strength to this record…I felt like it was a spectacular cut for Brannon before, and I still feel that way right now – he’s put a ton of heart & emotion into every second of his vocals on this single from Everyday Heroes and you can hear every word coming straight from the soul. With there being so many excellent new tunes I don’t know on this record, you’d almost think that “On My Way” might not stand out as much as the rest due to the familiarity of it all…but in Brannon’s case it almost seems to have the complete opposite effect. You hear him start to play and sing “On My Way,” and if you’ve heard it before, you again feel that brace for something special coming your way, knowing you’re in for one of his heartfelt best. Read the full review from April on Brannon’s “On My Way” and see the official lyric-video released to support this lead-single by clickin’ right here.
I think that if you were to ask me going in to push play for the first time before having heard anything, I’d have told ya I was thinking this whole thing might have come out with tunes that sounded like “The Darkest Year” – and honestly, I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t, as much as I might like this final cut on Everyday Heroes. All-in-all, it’s as much about what’s happening in the head & heart of Brannon as any of these songs would theoretically be…but give the man some credit for finding impressive ways to make what he’s singing about fully relatable at all times. Even just on the most surface of levels – how would YOU describe your 2020 folks? It’s been “The Darkest Year” to say the least…and in some way, shape, or form…we’re all feeling that. It’s been so dark that it could have consumed us all, and Brannon included of course – but he’s clearly chosen to “rage, rage against the dying of the light” (Acoustically…but you get what I mean) instead – and that’s one of the things I love best both about this album, and the man himself as an artist. And for “The Darkest Year,” you’ll find this last cut actually has quite a brighter set of vibes than you’d expect…it dives into some truly serious emotional terrain for sure, but as you’d expect – this everyday hero we have in Brannon does his best to keep the darkness at bay. The extra edge he’s got in his voice as he sings the chorus is a perfect match for the lyrics – and that bold conviction he brings to the words makes you believe everything is somehow gonna be OK; it’s a great note to end the record on, and comforting in its strength – “The Darkest Year” gave Everyday Heroes the ending it deserved and leaves us hopeful about the possibility & potential of tomorrow.
Find out more about Brannon at his official website at: https://www.brannonmusic.com
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