Brandon Rhyder Dives Deep Into Family, Legacy on New Album
Brandon Rhyder has had a long career, but he's never before felt the time was right for a self-titled album -- until now.
The Texas and Red Dirt country singer will release his new album on July 14, and not only does it mark a new phase of his career, it also marks his return to recording after a self-imposed hiatus of four years.
"We put out eight records in 12, 13 years, from 2001 to 2013," Rhyder tells Taste of Country in a recent phone interview. "About five years ago I had been gone for a significant amount of time, a couple of weeks. I came home and my kids looked so different, and they were talking so different and acting different. I just thought to myself, 'I'm missing out on my kids growing up.' So I started making more of a conscious effort to not play as many shows and not be gone as much. Watching them play baseball and do all the things that kids do became priorities. Things that were important 10 years ago aren't as important now, and vice versa."
That doesn't mean Rhyder stepped away from his career; he's still been touring, but the recording side of his career has been dormant. He's poured the lessons he's learned about himself and life in that time into his new album, which is set for release on July 14.
His wife and kids figure prominently into the 10 songs on Brandon Rhyder, which finds the singer-songwriter pondering not only his family but the legacy he is creating. The album begins with the gentle acoustic sentiment of "Evergreen," in which he sums up the album's theme succinctly, singing, "I don't mind things that don't matter these days." Rhyder says the lyrics "set the tone for the record."
If this record were to completely flop, it would be no one's fault but my own, because it's exactly what I wanted to do.
He wrote the album's first single, "They Need Each Other," with Lori McKenna, inspired by his relationship with his wife Kelli. "I think that song is representative of the whole record, because that song is about being an adult," he shares. "It's about being able to understand that relationships are never easy, and that there are going to be different moments in time where you have choices to make, whether you stay in that relationship or leave.The truth is it's never easy to stay, but that's what you do. It's about leaning on each other to make relationships work."
He worked with Keith Gattis on "I Hate This Town," which Rhyder says is a possibility for another single. The song is about missing your partner when you're away, no matter what surroundings you're in. Other standout songs include the hopeful, optimistic "Good Morning Sunrise," a slow ballad titled "No Time for That" and the album's closing track, "C'Mon, Baby Hold On." Longtime friend and collaborator Walt Wilkins returned to produce the new music.
"I'm so proud of each one of these individual tracks," Rhyder states. "They were all their own creation, their own piece of art. So I'm pretty pumped about it."
As an independent artist by choice, Rhyder admits the commercial prospects for new recordings can be daunting, especially in an age dominated by streaming and single-song downloads.
"We're kind of venture capitalists," he reflects. "We're having to put our capital up to create art that, in turn, we're going to give away, we're not selling. That's a very interesting place to be in. It's a very challenging time, and I think we're definitely gonna be driven more in that direction as it gets harder to pony up. You're putting this money out there and saying, 'This is my art,' and then when someone sees it on iTunes they say, 'These are my two favorite songs,' and they take those two songs from the collection. But it is what it is. We have to get over ourselves somewhat to be able to come to grips wth that. I still love putting out records. I've never put out just a single. Those days may be ahead, but for right now, I sure love putting out this whole record."
Rhyder says he's more than willing to stand or fall on the new music he's created.
"If this record were to completely flop, it would be no one's fault but my own, because it's exactly what I wanted to do. That's empowering, because when you as an artist can feel completely confident about what the music you've put down and you can stand behind it no matter what the results might be, that's when you know you're in a good spot. And I feel like I'm in a really, really great spot."
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