Being a music journalist sometimes feels like sorting through diamonds in the rough. The true gems are few and far between – however, once you find them, they stick out immediately and remain in your mind forever. We knew we were on to something special when we came across Allman Brown’s “Moonlight” last month, and today, we’re absolutely thrilled to be premiering a stunning live video of the song shot at Fitzrovia Chapel in his hometown of London.
When asked about the meaning behind the song, Brown said, “You know when you’re with someone and it’s like, 3am, or 2am, and you’ve had a night together and then you’re in a city, which is usually very very crowded but everything just falls away and it feels like it’s your own private place – that was the basis of it. I wanted to write a really, really intimate song and I came up with that riff and it felt really right for an intimate song, so it’s about that moment and then how that moment basically echoes throughout your life, I suppose – how it becomes a memory that’s important to you for a long, long time.”
The most special of songs take on an even greater meaning, resonating even deeper, when played in a special setting. Allman Brown and his manager happened across Fitzrovia Chapel while researching locations to film at. Fitzrovia Chapel is “really baroque and ornate [with] the stars you see on the ceiling”, and while it may seem like a Christian chapel, it’s not consecrated: it used to be part of a hospital and hospital chapels are not consecrated so as to ensure all are welcome. When the rest of the hospital was torn down, the chapel was left standing, offering a bit of reprieve from chaos in a busy city: “Now it’s all high-rise flats and fancy restaurants and stuff, but the chapel’s still there, right there in the middle of London.”
“Moonlight” is the second song to be released from Allman Brown’s forthcoming EP Bury My Heart (out on March 16). Speaking on the themes of the EP, he explains, “Every song is about the intensity of a relationship between two people. So whereas ‘Bury My Heart’ is imagining what it would be like if you lost that person, and what you would say to them as you were going, ‘Moonlight’ is a little bit more positive, so it’s just looking back over the relationship and your life and remembering that moment. The other three songs on the EP have similar themes, except for ‘Now You’re Gone’, which is basically a little bit sadder- it’s about being lonely. [Laughs.] I was by myself at home and I just started thinking about how much life is given by other people in your house – I was feeling lonely, so in a very cliché way I wrote a song about it.”
Bury My Heart marks an important milestone in Brown’s life: for ten years, he worked in restaurants, but as of this year, he was able to quit and do music full time. This is his first release as a career musician, and it’s made him feel validated as an artist. “Now I can officially say, ‘Yeah, this is what I do.’… I finally don’t feel like an imposter. It’s a strong word, but that’s the feeling that you get because you feel like – I’m in the room now, so that feels good.”
For Bury My Heart, Allman Brown once again partnered with longtime collaborator Liz Lawrence to produce four of the five songs (the final track, “Blues”, was produced by Ian Barter, who also mixed and mastered the EP). While the two trust each other and have “an intense, close relationship”, he stresses that it’s taken years to get there. Now that they know each other so well and have spent so much time working together, “there is no ego anymore so if we have criticisms of each other’s work – whether it’s like, ‘Oh, I think this chord isn’t great’ or ‘I think that lyric doesn’t work’ – we don’t take it personally. We just listen.” Brown admits he’s “not technically very able”, and relies on Lawrence’s ear to find the sounds the song needs. “I just kind of like, just splurge out what I’m looking for in terms of feelings, so with ‘Moonlight’ I’m like, ‘I want a song that’s really whisper-y but kind of epic at the same time.’ And then she’ll cook up a few sounds – you know, different synths, different pads, different electric guitar sounds, which might suit the needs of the song – but it’s just a lot of fun at the end of the day.”
Longtime listeners who were fans of tracks like “Sweetest Thing” and “Sons and Daughters” will be drawn towards “Wild”, which Brown describes as “a bit more of a folk song”; but Bury My Heart as a whole takes on a more electronic sound than his 2017 album 1000 Years. Adding more electronic elements, synths, and pads was a deliberate choice, as Brown felt intrigued by the intersection of organic and electronic musical elements. He notes that it was a natural evolution in sound, as his curiosity was piqued by all of the options to explore: “There’s just so much stuff you can do now- when you’re recording, the options now are limitless, so it’s quite hard to not want to experiment each time you go in to the studio.”
Surrounding the release of the EP, Allman Brown will be performing at SXSW, and he’s set to return stateside in May for a brief round of headlining tour dates. It’s not his first time in the U.S., but previously he’d only performed “small gigs, nothing official – when I was meeting my sync agent in Los Angeles and stuff like that – but nothing major”, making this his first official festival performance and first official headline shows. He’s “very, very excited” to perform for crowds that are “so welcoming and enthusiastic and willing to engage…. In the States, it’s just a pleasure, really. I think there’s an appetite there, there’s a hunger and a willingness to listen to lots of new music and different music.”
As much as he’s looking forward to SXSW and his May headlining shows, life at home keeps Allman Brown busy enough. He and his wife have a fifteen-month-old daughter, and when asked if he’s doing anything special to prepare for the upcoming U.S. shows he laughed as he explained, “When you’ve got a baby, there’s not much time to prepare! You just look after your kid, then you pack your bags and show up.” Though he’ll be playing this round of shows solo (“It’s just too expensive to bring anybody else over”), Brown hopes to return to the US “as soon as possible”, ideally with his band to join him.
Also to come later this year (likely in the summer, though a date hasn’t been set) is another EP that’s “nearly finished”, with four out of five tracks completed. For now though, all efforts are focused on Bury My Heart. The title track is one Brown has been trying to write “for like, ten years, honestly” – he wrote the lyrics to the chorus years ago and has them tattooed on his side. He was “really, really pleased” to finally complete the song and record a version for the EP that he felt was good enough, and hopes that listeners will find something in the songs to connect with and help them through difficult times. As validated as he is by being able to call himself a career musician, Brown has realized that those connections are what matter the most: “When I was younger, it was all about you know, ‘I’d love to have a record deal, I’d love to have money, I’d love to be a bit famous’ – and the older I’ve gotten, the more I realize that stuff, as much as I’m sure it would be great and lots of fun, it really isn’t as important as someone writing to you from across the world saying, ‘I’ve been having a really, really tough few months and been suffering lots of things and your songs have really helped me out.’ So I’m hoping that people will find something to connect with in the EP that way.”
Allman Brown will be releasing Bury My Heart on March 16. A list of his upcoming U.S. tour dates (SXSW and headline shows) and be seen below. For more information, head to his website.
Allman Brown – Tour Dates:
3/11 – Dallas, TX – Deep Ellum Art Co. (Skate or Die Fest)
3/13 – Austin, TX – Seven Grand (Reverb Nation x Killing Moon Live SXSW showcase, 8:15pm)
3/17 – Austin, TX – Barracuda (AGI x Xtra Mile Recordings SXSW showcase, 7:45pm)
5/01 – Brooklyn, NY – Baby’s All Right
5/02 – Philadelphia, PA – World Cafe Live
5/05 – Toronto, ON – The Drake Hotel
5/06 – Chicago, IL – Beat Kitchen
5/10 – Los Angeles, CA – The Moroccan Lounge
5/11 – San Francisco, CA – Neck Of The Woods