By Pam Windsor | Photography courtesy of Robbie Brindley
The little things in life bring songwriting success to musician Andrew Bryant.
Music has been a part of Andrew Bryant’s life for as long as he can remember.
“I got interested in it when I was really young,” the Mississippi-native recalled. “My mom played piano at church and we always had a piano at my house. She was always playing.”
His mother took Bryant and his sister to piano lessons, so they could play, too. But Bryant soon discovered that while he loved music and would eventually learn to play many different instruments, he needed to learn things on his own.
“I was never very good at reading notes and was kind of disinterested in that side of it. So, I quit lessons, but would still sit down and play. My mother wrote down the chords to hymns and things and I just taught myself to play piano by ear.”
He would do the same with an old guitar his mom had tucked away from the 70s, then later with a set of drums the preacher let him take home from a back closet of the church.
“I told the preacher I knew how to play drums, but I’d never played drums before. He said take them home and practice for a week and I did. And I started playing the next week in church. I did that for years.”
As a teenager growing up in Bruce, Mississippi, Bryant expanded his interests to rock and funk, and began pulling those influences together to create his own music.
“I started playing in my bedroom, different instruments all the time. I got cassettes and started writing songs. I began putting the different instruments together and making these little cassette EP’s in my room.”
His love for creating music continued through high school and into college and he started playing in different bands. Over the years, he continued working on music in his home studio and would self-release a collection of albums on which he played most of the instruments.
He began touring as a musician and singer with a group called Water Liars. Bryant enjoyed traveling to different cities and playing for new audiences although it wasn’t always easy being away from home. During that time he also realized he missed songwriting. Bryant began working on a side solo project that would result in an album called “This is the Life.”
“I think it had been three years since I’d written a song. I just kind of sat down one day and I wrote that album,” he remembered.
The album, with songs close to his heart like “Do What You love” and “It Just Takes Time” did pretty well and Bryant did a few tours to go along with it. Since then he’s continued working on solo projects and recently released his latest album called “Ain’t It Like the Cosmos?” It came out digitally and as a CD in late October, and this month will be released as a vinyl LP, available worldwide.
He is reluctant to categorize or put a label on his music, but says it can probably best be described as folk rock or indie rock.
“I just try to write really good songs,” he explained. “I’m influenced by country, gospel, rock, soul, and blues and I think there’s a little bit of all of that in there.”
It’s an introspective album with titles like “Everything in this World,” “I Am Not My Father’s Son,” and “Robert Downey Jr.’s Scars.” It touches on everything from work to fatherhood to family, and more.
“There are references I really like, such as throwing a baseball with my son, calling my mother. It’s the little things in life that are spread throughout the record that are the most meaningful to me. These things are real and make me reflect on myself and what I do in a bigger way.”
That kind of reflection comes often for Bryant who does a lot of thinking about his music and his family and how to balance both. Like many musicians, especially those who have spent time on the road, there’s the ever-present question of how to do what you love and make it work.
“Do I want to continue to tour 200 days a year or do I want to just work and spend time with my kids and play occasional shows? I’m still kind of asking myself that question.”
For now, he’s enjoying a good combination of all of those things while living in Oxford. He’s playing shows to promote the new album, spending time with his family, and creating new music.
“All I ever wanted to do is play music. I just want to write songs and play music. That makes me happy.”
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