Brendan And The Strangest Ways is the professional name of Alt-Country/Americana singer, songwriter and wandering soul, Brendan Shea. The Buffalo, New York native spent his musical formative years travelling from coast-to-coast across the United States.
In that time he planted temporary settlements in the two American musical meccas, Austin, TX and Seattle, WA. He earned his stripes in the competitive music scenes of each. He toured dozens of other US cities as well. In his travels, home was often any couch or car seat he could find as comfort for the night. He found time to record while on the road. With an ever-changing roster of backing musicians he recorded five EPs and a full length album.
In 2016 Brendan found his way home from after seven years of travelling. However, the comfort of his old stomping grounds did not ease the writer’s restless spirit. Over the next few years he went through two difficult romantic splits and numerous failed attempts to form a band. Financial struggles, interpersonal conflict and his own demons took their toll on Brendan’s health and happiness. Through it all though, he kept writing.
I was drinking too much, trying to stop, and having a lot of difficulty sustaining sobriety, losing count of all the “rock bottom” experiences that were each a little more frightening and dangerous than the previous one. I felt trapped in a downward spiral, with no light at the end of the tunnel so to speak. This album is very much my personal journal of those years and those experiences.Brendan Shea
Finally in 2019, things started coming together for Shea. He made his way to County Q Studios in Nashville, TN to record the brand new album, “Are We Sure the Dawn is Coming?” Studio manager Paul Scholten hooked Brendan up with a crew of top-notch Music City studio musicians. They tracked most of the album in just 10 days. Much of the it was recorded without overdubs. Even the singer’s vocals were put to tape while the band played live. As a result, the entire record has a cool organic vibe.
The nine songs on “Are We Sure the Dawn is Coming?” chronicle the struggles Brendan faced in his personal life throughout the previous three years. Many of the tracks are delivered from the various stages of a romantic split. The stories progress from the pre-break-up hope and hopelessness of songs like “We Can Beat Mercury,” to the defeated acceptance of “Emerald City’s Gone” and on to post-breakup love songs like “Poor Walking Blues.”
Throughout the record he uses vivid imagery and metaphor to create a deeply personal and poetic narrative. The album’s title comes from the closing track, “Turn Your Luck.” Brandon recounts various tales of his own misfortune and ends each with tongue-in-cheek optimism. Ultimately he sums up the attitude of the entire album with the line, “It’s always darkest before the dawn, are we sure the dawn is coming?”
Musically, Shea’s road tested songwriting meets the expert chops of some of the music world’s greatest studio musicians. From the stripped down acoustic arrangements of tracks like “Stranded” and “The Good” to lush, radio-ready Pop/Rock/Country grooves like “My Little Hypocrite,” the band nails it at every turn.
Beautiful lap steel slides weave together with mandolin melodies, plucked banjo rhythms and Shea’s ever-present acoustic guitar. The performances are excellent, and nuanced. The recording is a perfect mix of studio shine and acoustic warmth. Meanwhile Brendan’s vocals are honest and soulful. He’s smooth when he should be and raw when the song needs it. It’s a great sound.
Check out the video for “We Can Beat Mercury” (above) and listen to the song on the Deep Indie Dive playlist. Follow the links below to connect with Brendan And The Strangest Ways. Keep in the loop on all of Mr. Shea’s current and future projects.