Andrew Bryant (from Water Liars) & Book Club

Andrew Bryant

For over a fifteen years, Andrew Bryant has been writing songs, making records and touring across the United States with the best of them. Whether alone with his guitar, or by releasing his fury behind a drum kit with his band Water Liars, Andrew has lived a life committed to song.

At the age of fourteen, Andrew began playing drums in his church band in Mississippi. And it was there, in front of a small audience of thirty or so people three times a week, that he learned the power of song.

He first cut his teeth outside of the church playing in the Memphis punk scene in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, recording his on songs in his bedroom and arranging them into lo-fi albums and EP’s and selling handmade copies at his shows. Touring nationally soon followed, often alone or with a friend in a small car, criss-crossing the U.S. with only his songs, singing for anyone who would listen. And he hasn’t stopped doing that to this day.

Andrew labored for years playing like this, in small clubs, basements, any place that would have him. Along the way he built a small cult following, but now much more. And after years of labor with little to show for it, he began to heavily consider abandoning his passion for music and moving on to something elese. But no matter how much he searched, he just couldn’t find anything else worth his time.

Thankfully, Andrew’s friend Justin Peter Kinkel-Schuster contacted the disenchanted artist one day and asked him to record some songs that he’d been working on. Justin drove to Mississippi and they got to work in Andrew’s makeshift bedroom studio. What ensued was the beginning of the band Water Liars. Bryant and Kinkel-Schuster immediately felt an artistic connection, and the result of this first session was their debut album ‘Phantom Limb’. They decided, against all odds, to tour as much as possible behind the album. They gave it all they had, hoping their hard work might pay off. Soon after, they signed with Fat Possum imprint Big Legal Mess records and released two more critically acclaimed albums, ‘Wyoming’ and ‘Water Liars’‘, and toured non-stop for 4 years sharing the stage with the likes of Angel Olsen, Drive By Truckers and many others along the way.

In 2015 Water Liars decided to take a break and Andrew naturally returned again to his first love: writing songs and recording them in his bedroom in Mississippi. The end result became his first solo album in 6 years titled ‘This Is The Life’. BitterSoutherner named it their #3 album of the year and said of it “While James McMurtry can write a movie in 10 verses, it seems Bryant
has the ability to do it in three. His songs are tight vignettes of life’s pieces and episodes.”

The influence of his time spent in Water Liars has expanded Andrew’s musical landscape and it shows. His days on the road with Water Liars, and alone, seems to have ushered in a new era of songwriting and recording for Bryant, and the result is another new album titled ‘Ain’t It Like The Cosmos’.

Cosmos is the result of all that has come before it: music, love, fatherhood, the road, bands, clubs, basements, bars, divorce, isolation, sadness, reflection. Written in the years spent on and off the road behind ‘This Is The Life’, and recorded at Dial Back Sound in Water Valley, MS--the same studio where Water Liars recorded two albums--Cosmos highlights Bryant at the top of his game.

No depression said of the album, “Cosmos is a thoughtful study of humanity, peeling back the artificial layers we’re conditioned to build up in order to hide the vulnerability of just trying to function and survive. Life’s tough, Bryant seems to say, but we have to find the good.”

The fiction writer William Boyle said of Andrew’s upcoming new album, “Nobody right now does reflection and interiority better than Andrew Bryant. He’s always stopping to look. Starting again and recalibrating. Asking questions. The songs on Ain’t It Like the Cosmos provide complex observations about work, fatherhood, love, and longing. What does it even mean to be a father and a husband and a son? What’s it mean to be from a place? To truly live in a place? To feel trapped in a place? To feel freed by work and music and love? The album is rooted in sensory details. This intimacy gives us access to Bryant’s memories and fears.”

‘Ain’t It Like The Cosmos’ will be available March 9 via Last Chance Records. Andrew will be touring both solo and with a band for the remainder of 2018.

Book Club’s evocative sound is the perfect embodiment of the old Joni Mitchell line: “Every picture has its shadows / And it has some source of light.”

While Book Club’s lineup has changed and expanded over the years, founding frontman, guitarist, singer and songwriter Robbie Horlick’s vision has remained the driving force. His laidback voice, emotive and winsome, alternately evokes a shimmery pastoral beauty and deep shades of despondent darkness. The impressionistic lyrics don’t specifically describe events as much as arouse emotions. The music press took notice with Book Club’s last record, 2015’s One-Way Moon, which received high praise from outlets such as Paste, Exclaim!, No Depression and NYLON, the latter writing, “heart-wrenching lyrics with rich, gorgeous melodies … haunting and wintery … folk at its best.”

On Book Club’s ethereal yet riveting new third LP, Dust of Morning, the melodies and tempos never feel rushed. Rather songs such as “I Heard a Distant a Call,” “Honest in Disguise” and “When the Bells Rang Out” beckon the listener to float, drift and dream along with the set’s predominantly acoustic instrumentation.

Book Club never hits you head on. With the classically inflected strings and Horlick’s thoughtful musings, they gently invite you to examine the vagaries of life. Poetic lines like “every shadow hides a dawning”—from the aptly titled “Every Song, Another Question”—eschew easy answers, contemplating the quirks of existence while allowing space for listeners’ own interpretations to simmer and smolder in their minds.

Dust of Morning began to take shape after Horlick’s 2016 solo tour of Europe and the U.K. “I did three weeks there and I was writing the whole time,” he says. “But it was hard to zoom out and distill it all. After I got back, I decompressed and a lot of this stuff just spilled out. It’s not really a clear narrative; it’s things that occurred to me through the prism of that experience.”

The sound on the new Book Club record is spare and open, often with brushed drums, and hints of piano, cello and violin providing a somber bed upon which Horlick’s everyman voice and wistful lyrics lay together. The organic sound and recording approach made for a natural fluidity. “We did most everything live in the studio over a long weekend in the same room with everyone in line of sight,” Horlick says. “Two or three takes of each song—the strings were recorded with the guitar, bass and drums so there was no layering, just nice and easy.”

Even the album’s more lyrically desperate tracks, like “Can You Put Your Eyes On Mine?”—its protagonist pleading with a significant other to “put the phone away” so they can speak without distraction—are tempered by a sunny performance, often featuring the lovely harmony vocals of the band’s new pianist Lauren Love.

From the engagingly torchy country of “So Many Nights” (featuring Love on lead vocals) to the more insistent, rhythmic and string-driven “It Takes a Thief,” Dust of Morning explores a diverse and distinctive sonic palette within the indie-folk genre. Even though the subject matter seems intimate and personal, Horlick reminds us that the singer is not always the narrator. "These songs aren't all autobiographical. I mean, there are snippets, but sometimes I find the perspective of these narrators more interesting than my own."

Book Club has evolved impressively over the years, resulting in the artistic triumph of Dust of Morning, with all its gorgeously foreboding and inviting shadows and light. Horlick credits a deep sincerity: “I’m approaching the music with a cleaner lens. What I’m saying and how I’m saying it is coming out in a more finely tuned way these days. If there is honesty in the writing, the rest will flesh out honestly too.”

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