Brendan James

“Simplify represents me finding a clarity I have been searching for for years,” says critically acclaimed piano-based singer-songwriter BRENDAN JAMES of his new album Simplify. His fifth album, it is also his most elegant and emotionally direct album to date.

An active supporter for all levels of equality (he has spoken out for Marriage Equality and is considered a “Straight Ally”) and a supporter for the men and women in the military (he’s performed for the USO and troops), his advocacy is well-known and widespread. Larry Flick, influential host of Sirius XM's OUTQ, says of James, "The remarkable thing about Brendan is that he is an active, creative citizen of the world. His songs do more than reflect his experiences in typical singer/songwriter style. He weaves his views and stories into a musical framework that triggers empathy from a wide array of listeners. He's proof that, in the right hands, music can truly be universal."

James is a man who sings with conviction and isn’t afraid to speak out, as is evidenced on his new album, Simplify. For example, the plaintive ballad “The New Plan” tackles our violence-obsessed culture unflinchingly. “It’s no secret that this country has an unhealthy obsessions with guns,” he explains. “I wrote this song as a conversation piece, begging for an end to violence for the sake of violence. It’s in our culture, and it's starting to 'backfire'. We're beginning to look ridiculous on the world stage, and I care enough to address it. Very few civilians I know NEED guns. They simply choose to have them around.”

Tackling his personal history as a child of divorce, he wrote the song “He Loved”, which actually had origins in the divorce of his musical heroes, Carly Simon and James Taylor. The song was written years ago at Simon’s home in Martha’s Vineyard where he was invited to a private mentor session that didn’t go quite as planned - Simon had to leave for a last minute engagement just as he arrived, leaving him with the keys to her mansion. When she returned six days later, he played this song for her and she gave him her stamp of approval. It took him a few years to be confident enough as a songwriter to release it, and the song appears on Simplify. “Back then, I think Carly saw in me the ability to be a mature and credible songwriter, but I wasn’t that guy until now. I finally grew to be the songwriter she believed me to be,” James confides.

The album’s title track and first single is a melodically driving jam that American Songwriter calls “a piano-fueled pop/rocker that feels like a mission statement for the entire record.” “The process of evolution, especially technological evolution, is occurring at such blinding speeds these days that we must take collective moments to breathe together, find calm together,” Brendan explains of the song, “or we will forever leave behind our real essence as animals in paradise.”

The Derry, NH native has had his songs featured in television shows such as Private Practice, American Idol, Bones, So You Think You Can Dance, Army Wives, and One Tree Hill. His first three albums climbed the iTunes Top 10 pop charts—James’ sophomore album, Brendan James, climbed to #1 on the iTunes singer-songwriter charts. He’s toured the country nine times over and played alongside such diverse artists as John Mayer, Paula Cole, Keb Mo, Parachute, and Green River Ordinance. The Kickstarter campaign for Simplify netted nearly double its projected goal. And in May of 2013, James had the honor of giving a TED talk, in which he spoke of the importance of consciousness in his art.

Whether making music, running a groundbreaking investment firm, or designing world-class crossword puzzles, Pete Muller is dedicated to the pursuit of excellence. With his fourth album, Dissolve, this fascinating polymath takes his strongest step yet, blending his jazz training with his love of classic songwriting for a set of honest, moving compositions.

Produced by Emmy-winning, Grammy-nominated Rob Mathes (Sting, Rod Stewart, Carly Simon), Dissolve captures the emotional insights and singular perspective forged by Muller’s journey, which has taken him from the peaks of the financial industry to performance stages around the world.

Born in Wayne, New Jersey, he was inspired by the example of his mother, who served as the only doctor in a small town in Brazil (“She had a huge influence on my work ethic and my desire to help people,” he says). He grew up playing jazz piano and studying math, and after graduating from Princeton, moved to Northern California to play music for a rhythmic gymnastics team.

Shortly thereafter, Muller began work at BARRA, a pioneering
research firm that catered to quantitative financial firms. In
1992, he joined Morgan Stanley in New York as a proprietary trader, to see if he could use math and computers for his own trading. He called his group Process Driven Trading, or PDT; as Forbes magazine explained, they used “complex math and computer-automated algorithmic models to buy and sell stocks, futures and currencies based on statistical correlations and aberrations that can be found in the market.”

But eventually, Muller was drawn back to his music. He knew that great songwriting required a deeper commitment, so he stepped away from his finance work and assembled a group of songwriters who met every week for years to workshop material. “Having a group that was mutually supportive but appropriately critical was a great inspiration,” he says. He recorded two albums—Just One Lifetime (2002) and
More Than This (2004)—and even played his keyboard in New York City subway stations.

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