Singer songwriter Brendan Scott Friel has just released his second single ‘Shadows’ ahead of his forthcoming album Summer Moons. Photo above by Alicia Friel courtesy of Soul City Music Co-op.
Indie folk singer-songwriter explains the creative process behind his melancholic new ballad, recorded at Union Sound Company in Toronto
Haunting vocals, spacious echoes, and intimate acoustic guitars interlace on ‘Shadows’, the melancholic new single from indie folk singer-songwriter Brendan Scott Friel.
As the second single from Brendan’s forthcoming album Summer Moons, ‘Shadows’ is a bold contrast to Brendan’s previous single ‘Cheap String Lights’, a sweetly romantic song released in January. ‘Shadows’ blurs the lines between memories and reality, using unusual techniques employed by producer James Bunton (Donovan Woods, Joey Landreth) at Union Sound Company in Toronto, where the project was recorded in the fall of 2020.
“We ended up turning off all the lights, and having me track the main vocal while laying down with a handheld mic,” Brendan explains. “It’s a song about heartbreak, and I wanted the choruses to become less and less eloquent lyrically as the song progressed.” This approach grants the listener insight into an unravelling narrator, who, by the time we reach the last chorus, can barely deliver the hook of the song. “I remember when I played this song for friends as I was writing it; there was always a visceral reaction when I reached [the final chorus]. It walks that uncomfortable line that I love so much and I feel is a byproduct of unapologetic honesty.”
Aside from an unconventional vocal recording process, Brendan and James employed other techniques to capture the song’s aesthetic on recording. “We actually recorded the whole track onto minidisc,” says Brendan. “From there, we were able to slow the song down 3%, making all the instruments and the vocal ever-so-slightly out of tune, to capture that feeling of uneasiness – how something so close to being right can feel more wrong, because of its proximity.”
This song, along with many others on Summer Moons, is recorded on a humble old Kay acoustic guitar. These guitars would be sold in department stores such as Sears and Montgomery Ward throughout the mid fifties to late sixties, and aren’t typically what one might expect to see in use in a modern studio environment. “We did lots of blind shoot outs against other much more expensive guitars to be sure,” shares Brendan, “But the charmingly dead-sounding Kay acoustic won out most of the time, especially in the case of the song ‘Shadows’.”
The telling of stories outside of his own perspective is one of the traits of folk music that draws Brendan to this genre. “I have always preferred reading fiction, as I feel in some ways, it tells more about the author than a lot of non-fiction, which can get hung up on presenting the subject the way they want to be perceived, rather than how they actually are,” Brendan explains. “Not to mention the fact that I am going on to my third year of being happily married, which would render my heartbreak-song career over, if I didn’t start creating protagonists and scenarios.”
For Brendan, the contrast between ‘Shadows’ and ‘Cheap String Lights’ is a pairing that aptly illustrates the theme of duality inherent in his upcoming album Summer Moons (to be released April 23, 2021). “For every high, there must be a low, and ‘Shadows’ represents that necessary dark side of the spectrum – ‘Shadows’ is not the song that tells you that everything is going to be ok. However, I hope it does provide some comfort through solidarity. Sometimes, when I’m down, I go to friends looking for advice, and other times I’m looking to just be understood. My hope is that ‘Shadows’ says nothing more than, ‘I feel the same, and it’s horrible.’ Sometimes, that’s all you need to hear.”
About Brendan Scott Friel
With international tours and hundreds of shows under his belt and his weathered mini Martin acoustic guitar in his hand, Brendan Scott Friel has earned his reputation as a consummate professional. Since hitting the ground running with his self-produced solo album Quiet Cars in 2017, Brendan has become a fan favourite in his home city of Windsor, Ontario, and an export-ready artist, in between hours spent teaching music to more than 40 students per week. Continuing the momentum garnered by his 2019 single ‘Border City Town’ featuring Kelly Hoppe and appearing on the Wards of Windsor compilation album, Brendan’s second full-length recording Summer Moons is set for release in April 2021.
About Soul City Music Co-op
Launched on January 1st, 2020, the Soul City Music Co-op is not your traditional music label. Co-founded by Windsor singer-songwriters Mike Hargreaves and Crissi Cochrane, the label takes no percentage of its artists’ earnings or rights, and instead fosters sustainable self-managed music careers through mentorship, solidarity, and skill-sharing. The label features a small but growing roster of eight diverse Windsor artists – Brendan Scott Friel, The Bishop Boys, Crissi Cochrane, Madeline Doornaert, Ayola, Dane Roberts, Soul Brother Mike, and The Family Soul.