Kay Hanley joins Brad Byrd on "American Life"

Lost in American Life, 
 looking for love. 
 Somehow I'll get by.

This is one of the prettiest songs of the year and definitely worth your time. Journeyman performer Brad Byrd has teamed up with some of music's brightest and best for his new album Phases out this Friday (May 3, 2019). Today we have the new single, "American Life" which pairs Byrd with Boston music legend Kay Hanley (Letters To Cleo).

A song told in three parts, "American Life" is a track about empathy and survival. The first section is Byrd alone delivering poetry. Byrd's protagonist walks these lines alone accompanied only by soft guitar and sparse drums. And, is if by magic, when the sections ends, another begins.. 


Hanley enters and matches Byrd perfectly. Their harmony is met by pedal steel. The middle of the song is so damn delicate and beautiful it feels like a spell is being cast so you hold your breath and just hope it lasts forever. 

The song's midriff ends in a rise and the voices are chased away by a sun too hot and too near.  The third part of the song is a soft return that reminds us what once was. "American Life" surrenders to an easy instrumental chorus of harmonica, pedal steel, drums and guitar. And just like that, it's gone. 

Photo by Alison Dyer

Is this song about the melancholy state of culture or is it about surviving the loss of one's soulmate - or something else entirely? Perhaps only Brad Byrd knows for sure. But I suspect maybe Kay Hanley does too.

Listen to this one on repeat and pick up the new album Friday. One of my favorite albums of the year so far and I've only been listening for a few short days, marking a new level of achievement for Brad Byrd. Long may you run sir, long may you run!

Phases (May 3) / Spotify

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