Jonathan Byrd & The Pickup Cowboys toured with Eliot Bronson back in November of 2014; a tour that took us from Alabama to Texas, up through Arkansas, Illinois, Minnesota then to Wisconsin. It got pretty cold out in them parts and it was quite a long haul to ride, with a guy we didn’t really know.
We had done a couple of shows with him before that winter tour. The first one in Georgia; Paul happened to be sick that night and was puking in the parking lot before our set, looking at the door thinking: “Damn, that guy Eliot is pretty good.”
Our first show of the tour was in Birmingham, Alabama at Moonlight on the Mountain. This was the first time I personally could really sit back and check this dude out. The venue was small, intimate and the crowd, the same. Paul and I took a table out front. Hearing Eliot solo, just him and that acoustic guitar of his, was extraordinary.
Eliot has soul. His words dig in with depth and his melodies continue to linger in my head. We think Canada is going to love him!
Here’s more about the man and his work. Enjoy.
I need to wax up my stash….
Award-winning singer/songwriter Eliot Bronson’s latest self-titled album was tracked entirely analog in Nashville by acclaimed producer Dave Cobb (Sturgill Simpson, Rival Sons, Jason Isbell, Nikki Lane). It’s a vibey, ten-song album with an uncluttered production aesthetic that highlights Bronson’s songwriting and his achingly beautiful vocals.
The story goes that after Bronson completed writing this cycle of songs, he sent Dave Cobb an unsolicited email with a sample track attached. Bronson was inspired to reach out to Cobb because he was intrigued by the spacious vocal production on the Jason Isbell record which Cobb had produced. Bronson felt Cobb could help him realizethe atmospheric and timeless qualities he wanted for his songs. Cobb was impressed with Bronson’s music and replied back. “I was stunned when I got a response. It was really validating for me because I sort of had him on a pedestal,” Bronson says candidly.
Eliot Bronson was recorded in one week at Cobb’s home studio and Cowboy Jack Clement Studios in Nashville. “It all felt really natural and effortless,” Bronson recalls. “Dave would be in the room playing right along with us during tracking.” The album was mixed the following week.
“It was quite a pleasure workin’ with Eliot,” says Cobb. “He’s a brilliant lyricist and poet. We did the record live all together and the album feels timeless.”
The record is something of a homecoming for Bronson, who was raised in a Pentecostal home by a family for which music was prayer and life was expressed and enjoyed in song. At an early age, Bronson discovered his parents’ folk collection of 1960s artists. These two became formative musical influences shaping Bronson’s purposeful, pensive, and poetic songwriting. Though his own music adventures took him away from these roots, he returns home to these music guideposts with Eliot Bronson
“I spent a long time trying to get away from where I came from,” Bronson says, “but it never really felt right. This is the music I’ve always had in me. This record is me.”
Eliot Bronson is anchored by Bronson’s honeyed weary voice; blend of wry wit with emotional sincerity; expansive palette of Americana; and the album’s crisp vintage production. “River Runs Dry” boasts high-lonesome vocal harmonies, tenderly mournful lap steel, and it conjures up a cathartic sadness. “I like songs to preserve little moments without telling a specific story, so you feel something but you don’t always know exactly why,” Bronson reveals. The rollicking “Comin’ For Ya North Georgia Blues” combines almost William Boroughs-esque cutup images with unbridled and euphoric shitkicking musicality. “I was really having fun with words and ideas on that one, trying to paint picture of a relationship” he explains.
Bronson’s engaging cleverness comes to the front on the “You Wouldn’t Want Me If You Had Me.” “I didn’t think I was being funny on that one,” he says with a good-natured laugh. “I was being truthful, but I guess it works on a humorous level too. My friend said that title is the ‘dating musician’s credo.’”
Previously Eliot Bronson issued two critically acclaimed solo albums and, prior to his solo career, was a member of folk favs The Brilliant Inventions. The Atlanta Music Guide says: “Eliot Bronson is the type of songwriter who could squeeze out something meaningful about taking out the trash. He writes heartfelt songs with dark humor and backs them with his resonant voice and swampy instruments.” Georgia Music Magazine notes: “He can pull at your heartstrings like nobody’s business.” Coming up, in his native town of Baltimore, Maryland The Baltimore Sun called him a “a folk singing wunderkind.” He has won such esteemed songwriting awards as first place at Chris Austin Songwriting Contest at MerleFest and Eddie Owen Presents “Songwriter Shootout,” and he’s been a finalist at Kerrville Folk Festival, Rocky Mountain Folks Fest Songwriting Contest, and New Song Contest Lincoln Center NYC.