Runs June 10-14th
Midway through the title track of Dean Brody’s 2012 release, Dirt, you’ll find yourself wearing the kind of silly grin you may remember sporting the first time you stuck your fingers in the mud as a kid. Best get used to it – just like its namesake – Dirt’s going to stick with you.
Then again, Brody’s music always does. The Nova Scotia based, BC bred singer/songwriter has a way of painting pictures with his lyrics that are so vivid, they tend to stay fixed in your mind’s eye just as long as the melodies he sets them to. This, Brody’s third full-length release, and the follow up to his hugely successful 2010 effort – Trail in Life – is no exception.
On Dirt, Brody sings it like he sees it, and whether he sees two generations of family grieving by a riverbank, a .45 toting lady who picks up a random hitchhiker to share the burden of an all-night drive, or a drop-dead gorgeous Canadian girl in a toque, on your first listen, you’ll see them just as clearly.
“The title track, ‘Dirt’, stands out as the most ‘country’ song on the record”, Brody says, and takes a playful look at the role dirt plays in our lives from the time we first come home covered in it, to the moment they lay us down under a nice cool layer of earth for good. “It just says a lot in one word,” Brody explains. For him, it brings up memories of playing with his first Tonka truck – a time when all he needed to have a rip-roaring good time was a shovel, a fresh patch of ground and his imagination. But it also stands for where we’re from. And our relationship with the stuff can say a fair bit about the path we take to finding out who we’re meant to be, where our own trail in life is supposed to lead us, and how we get there.
Essentially, if you’re not afraid of getting dirty, chances are you’re not afraid to dig in and stick life out when fate hands you a rough deal, even if it means taking a risk on a road that might lead nowhere in an effort to make your dreams come true. That’s something Brody has never feared. Throughout his career he has consistently shown a willingness to pull up his roots, shake the dirt off, and plant them down over and again in order to make music his life.
Growing up in the tiny town of Jaffray, BC, Brody took his first job at age fifteen at the local sawmill. While it was tough, it only set the tone for what would become a much tougher gig down the line – his struggle to make a living as a singer/songwriter. After landing his first publishing deal in 2004, Brody headed to Nashville, but two years on, found himself back in Jaffray, back at the mill, and at a crossroads in his musical career.
A recording contract with Broken Bow Records led him south again for another 5 years and although his self-titled debut broke the top 25 in the U.S., the top 10 in Canada and garnered him a CCMA for Single of the Year, his partnership with the label was threatened by an ultimatum that Brody simply could not accept. He soon found himself looking for a new home in Canada for both his growing family and his music.
He’d soon find both; settling down on Nova Scotia’s South Shore and inking a deal with Open Road Recordings in 2009. Since, Brody has become one of Canada’s brightest country stars. His sophomore album Trail in Life yielded four top 10 singles, won three 2011 CCMA Awards for Album, Songwriter and Single of the Year as well as a 2011 JUNO nomination for Country Album of the Year. To top it off Brody finished out 2011 as the Most Played Canadian Country Artist of the year on Canadian radio.
With the highly anticipated release of Dirt’s lead single, ‘Canadian Girls’ – a no holds barred country rocker – honouring Canadian women from ‘coast to coast to coast’ and the #1 most added song in the nation of any genre in its first week at radio – the demand for Brody’s signature brand of image-driven storytelling is greater than ever.
Recorded at Sound Stage Studios and Curb Studios in Nashville with longtime producer/mixer Matt Rovey at the helm, Dirt finds Brody expanding his range as a songwriter and storyteller dramatically. Although he still takes cues from longtime country influences like Dwight Yoakam and Randy Travis, Dirt is also influenced by the rich musical heritage of Brody’s adopted Maritime home and nowhere more so than on ‘It’s Friday’ – an East meets West stomping party song featuring Great Big Sea’s Alan Doyle, Sean McCann and Bob Hallett.
Like a number of the songs on Dirt, ‘It’s Friday’ is written with Brody’s live show in mind. “People come out to shows, they don’t want to sit around listening to heavy songs on a Friday or Saturday night, they want to have a good time.” Dirt, from top to bottom, has lots of songs to keep audiences on their feet.
In no way is this a concept record, but the idea of dirt as a reflection of where you come from shows up in a number of Brody’s new songs. “When I write, often the theme is about home, even if a song isn’t directly about that, it usually works its way in there.” Although that’s a theme ground deep into the fabric of country music, Brody has an uncommon way of writing about it. “I’m not so much lyrically driven as picture driven,” he says. “I’m trying to paint the pictures I see in my own mind with words and music.” As detailed as those musical pictures are, Brody always leaves room for listeners to populate his songs with the people they grew up with and to see the landscapes they were surrounded by in their own lives.
From straight up love songs like ‘Losing My Balance’ and Brody’s co-write with George Canyon, ‘The Sleeping Bag Song’, to all out country rocker, ‘Canadian Girls’, Dirt’s 11 tracks play out like a series of short films.
Nowhere is that more evident than on ‘Bob Marley’, featuring Scotty Sanders ghostly steel guitar and Andy Leftwich on mandolin. “That one just came out,” Brody says, “from an image I had of two people sitting together, not saying much, just remembering someone they love and sharing a song to help them through it.” It’s a track so vivid you can practically see the grass waving in the breeze on the riverbank the two are sitting on, and hear the crickets chirping nearby.
Then there are tracks like ‘Rural Route #3’, which does double duty by paying tribute to the values people who grew up along the same kind of country roads Brody did hold dear, and to the men and women who travel down those roads on their way to serve their country as part of the Canadian Armed Forces.
While some songs like ‘Underneath the Apple Trees’ cover gratifyingly familiar ground to his past efforts, tracks like the brooding ‘Nowhere USA’ and the outright hilarious ‘That’s Your Cousin’ find Brody stretching out substantially, showcasing a wry sense of humour that will only further cement his reputation as one of the finest storytellers in the business.
Dean Brody can find inspiration anywhere; in his own experiences, in a character he sees in his mind’s eye, or in someone he met once along a crooked dirt road somewhere in his travels, but regardless of where his songs and stories come from, they ring true because in one way or another he’s lived every line. People are drawn to Brody, his music and his voice because of his authenticity as a performer, a songwriter and an individual. On this record, that authenticity comes across more clearly than ever before. Released on April 24, 2012 on Open Road Recordings, Dirt is pure country gold.