From the opening track of Brigitte DeMeyer's Savannah Road you are struck by the spiritual nature of her vocals. Shes' singing like she means it, like she's getting in touch with something very ancient and deep in the south. Despite having grown up on the west coast, she managed to connect to roots music through soul music and Greg Allman and other musical icons. The result is a collection of southern, soulful blues tracks that fit right in at your next back porch hangout or late night drive through the land of spanish moss.
I'm adding "Savannah Road," "Please Believe Me," "Big Man's Shoes," and "Honey Hush" to rotation.
Preview Savannah Road by Brigitte DeMeyer on Amazon.
Brigitte DeMeyer was my guest on episode 194 of the Americana Music Show.
Savannah Road by Brigitte DeMeyer, from the one sheet:
The South is more than just a place. It’s a feeling you get when you’re sitting on the porch on a warm summer night sipping sweat tea. It’s the haunting comfort that envelops you when you drive the wooded back roads in your hometown. It’s the sound of cicadas rustling in the trees. It’s the stories you’d hear as a kid getting tucked into bed. It’s the salt, grease and love that goes into every plate of grits served. The South is everywhere, especially in the stories told by Brigitte DeMeyer’s music.
With her sixth offering, Savannah Road, Brigitte gives the listener access to a special place in her mind. The title track is inspired by Gregg Allman’s book My Cross to Bear. The celebrated musician’s biography was Brigitte’s companion and took her in all these different, musical and emotional directions. It helped her feel connected to him, Georgia, the South, and in the process, connected to herself. “It [Savannah] seemed like such a mystery to me. I understood the vibe that was coming from there and I created this road.” The result is 13 tracks that reel you in after the first note. But it’s the sound of her voice that sets her miles above her contemporaries. Brigitte’s vocals are so smooth and soulful with just the right amount of warmth. Any one of her songs could melt butter; so rich, so incredibly powerful and dripping with feeling. The album is raw, stripped down and the lyrics read like a Pulitzer Prize winning novel about life, love, yearning and mystery.
Growing up in Southern California where the surf is always breaking, Brigitte treated her ears to the opposite of the sunshine pop that the area is known for. Everyone from young Michael Jackson and Steve Earle, to soul greats like Aretha Franklin and Etta James helped Brigitte find her own voice. The variety of music she listened to helped shape the sound she brings us today. “The feeling of singing brought me comfort,” Brigitte says. She likens singing to a natural high, the same high you’ll experience when you listen to her music. Self-described as “acoustic soul,” Brigitte’s sound is a merger of her influences. She’s not twangy or straight-up gospel. There’s soul, there’s blues, there’s roots rock and even a little bit of New Orleans thrown in for good measure. She’s a natural storyteller who leaves nothing behind when crafting the incredible lyrics that paint a beautiful Southern gothic picture on each album.
Before embarking on the quest that brings Brigitte’s music to the main stage, she pursued an education in marketing. Instead of sleeping on random couches and going the “starving artist” route, she took the road less travelled in rock and roll: She got a job. Not wanting to depend on anybody, she worked to make enough money to get her music career going, realizing that being self-sufficient was the only way to feel truly content while turning her musical dreams into a reality. Brigitte was able to pay rent and play music. Eventually, she was able to leave the marketing world behind and concentrate on her craft full-time, and we the listener, are grateful.
Brigitte DeMeyer is a storyteller. She is the blues personified. Each lyric drips with emotion, curiosity and imagination. “There’s something sparkly about each song,” Brigitte says about the story told by Savannah Road. “Boy’s Got Soul” is a beautiful anecdote about finding someone who possesses or moves you unexpectedly, in which she uses the term “scrapyard lullabies” (a Chris Whitley reference) over smooth, yet haunting guitar strums. “Home Ground” is a poignant, soulful adventure about finding that special place where you can be free. However, it’s “Build Me A Fire” where Brigitte’s storytelling mastery really comes to life. It’s a personal story, an ode her to the hardships her mother had to overcome during the Second World War. Besides the aforementioned standout tracks, the entire album is bursting with the same rare passion that is found on old Fleetwood Mac records. Savannah Road is teeming with elements of melancholy, longing, and most of all, each track brings its own little piece of the South where Brigitte has been living since 2010. “Mother Nature is boss here,” she chuckles. “And, there’s a spirit here, a vibe in the air that gets absorbed, goes into the music.”
Besides her environment influencing the sound on her latest album, her frequent collaborator Will Kimbrough plays a part in what makes Brigitte’s music erupt with its soul and truth. They mesh in the studio every time they set out to cultivate a song. The sound we hear on her album, that feeling of Southern hospitality and compassion that blankets the listener is due in part to her palpable chemistry with Kimbrough. Another factor is Brady Blade, a staple in the Americana movement. Brigitte and Blade have been working together since her second album and have never looked back. “Me and Brady are like brother and sister, we’ve been through a lot together,” she says. “Brady and Will are probably the biggest supporters in my musical life, second to my husband,” Brigitte continues about her two harmonious soulmates. “I feel safe with them. I can say here’s my heart, check it out, and they do the same”.
If there’s one thing the listener is sure to take away from Brigitte DeMeyer’s music it’s that life is more than a destination, it’s a journey. From opening for Bob Dylan, to playing with the McCrary Sisters and Buddy Miller, to forming lifelong musical friendships with Blade and Kimbrough, the journey is far from over. With each song, each album, each tour, there is an incredible Southern-infused story to tell and Brigitte DeMeyer is here to tell it.