The direction of Adam Brand’s new album, Speed of Life, was telegraphed when he released the single ‘Life’s Been Good to Me’ last year. This was Brand in laidback mode, grateful for the good things in life and philosophical about the bad. He followed it with ‘Freakin’ Weekend’, which was more in the style of his earlier energetic work – and which was an indication to his longtime fans that he had not forgotten them. But Fly is very definitely the work of a more mellow Brand.
Recorded before the birth of his daughter, with Luke Wooten (who has worked with Brad Paisley and Dierks Bentley) as producer, Speed of Life could be described as a feel-good album, because it does leave you feeling good, but that’s also a fairly pat description for something that is another evolution in sound and style for Brand. On his 2017 album, Get On Your Feet, Brand sounded more confident than he had in the past – more centred, and also more relaxed in himself. Certainly someone who has entertained as many people as he has should feel confident, but there is often a difference – in courage as well as skill – between performing live to large crowds and standing alone in a sound booth recording vocals. In the latter experience it can be a lot harder to hide, and thus the performer is more vulnerable. In Get On Your Feet Brand had the courage to lead with his heart, and start to be vulnerable, and this is the evolution he’s continued on Speed of Life.
This latest album is absolutely heartfelt, and a lot of the songs are about connections – of life and love, and not necessarily romantic. There is a prayer for the future in ‘Fly’, and encouragement for the forlorn in the powerful ‘You Are Not Alone’, a duet with Casey Donovan. In ‘Don’t Wanna Let You Down’ there is Brand stepping into his new roles in life and hoping he gets them right.
One of the things Brand has done consistently throughout his career is to give his audience what they need as well as what they want. This latest album probably tips more to the former – his fans may want, or think they want, the rowdier Brand of the past, but right now they probably need the Brand who is prepared to put his heart and soul on the line to bring them an album that will make them smile, and also bring a tear, and overall leave them feeling just about as right with the world as he does. That’s not to say this album isn’t loud – in parts it is – so there is still the option for it to be a party soundtrack (once parties are allowed again). But it’s also an album worth savouring – the fruit of Brand having a relationship with his fans for many years, and being able to read them and give them something just right.
Speed of Life is out now through ABC Music/Universal Music Australia.
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