Randall Bramblett has a brand new CD out, The Bright Spots, and like everything Bramblett does it is skillful, soulful, and bound to resonate with listeners. It reflects his heartfelt and often profound songwriting as well as his roots in soul, gospel, blues, and rock. And I think I’ve pinpointed what makes the singer such a great songwriter. Every song was obviously written by a man who knows who he is.
Bramblett raised $30,000 on Kickstarter to record this CD, thus insuring that his vision was realized for every song, with no corporate overseeing. Seven tunes were recorded with Bramblett’s long-time band near his home in Athens, Georgia, and five were recorded in Nashville. It is a deeply personal project and the music has an intimate feel, whether the song is more of a rocker like “Roll” or a ballad like “Rumbling Bridge.” All of the songs sound fresh, as though they were cut quickly without a lot of retakes or overdubbing.
It’s impossible to pick out standout songs here. Each song is perfect and an important part of the whole picture.
The ballad, “My Darling One,” is a sublime love song. The folky, gospel blues “Every Saint” is just a rollicking, folky delight, “Every saint is an accident/A wild shot in the dark,” while “Til the Party’s All Gone” is a great little R&B-flavored party song that is deeper than it might first appear.
“Whatever That Is” uses a very down-to-earth, ironic humor to explain what’s really important to Bramblett in the long run. “John the Baptist” is a funky gospel-infused song about John the Baptist looking for Jesus at The Nowhere Bar, which is a real bar in Athens, Georgia.
“Shine” is a great little ballad about being who you are, doing your best, and letting the rest go. “String yourself across the old clothesline/Let the wind blow through your mind/Do your best, kiss the rest goodbye.”
“Trying to Steal a Minute” brings some funk to the mix. Bramblett told the audience at his CD release party at Eddie’s Attic in Atlanta that this was “about the dark streets of some city. You go up to your room and you find a note. It’s bad news.” And this song is about what happens next.
“Detox Bracelet” is a sensitive and beautiful ballad about love, addiction, and trying to make it in this world. It’s perfect for Bramblett’s soulful voice. “You Bring Me Down” has a bit of funk and a bit of jazz, and a very cool vibe about how old loves can get to you if you let them. “All Is Well” is another sensitive, beautifully written and performed ballad. The keyboards underscore the feeling of peace the song creates.
The final song, “Rumbling Bridge,” evokes Bramblett’s Southern roots in a very similar way to the way Springsteen evokes New Jersey. It’s another perfect ballad of homecoming.
It is hard to imagine a more perfect CD. Any lover of Southern blues and rock, or any lover of any singer-songwriter anywhere, owes it to themselves to become acquainted with Randall Bramblett. Pick this one up right away and then do what I’m going to do and go back and pick up any of his other CDs you’ve missed. You can’t get enough of Randall Bramblett.