Singer/songwriter/guitarist Doyle Bramhall II says that his recent album release, Rich Man, out on Concord Records, manifests his “life journey to find my voice and grow as a creative person and as a man to get to this place, which feels like a new beginning for me.”
“I read a quote from Charles Mingus,” he says. “He felt that he was not just playing a style of music so much as expressing the sounds of his life and experiences through the medium of music. I very much relate to that.”
The album is Bramhall’s first solo release since 2001. “I’d been writing pretty consistently for other artists and projects since my last album and had stored a lot of songs, sort of documenting my life story,” says Bramhall, whose collaboration credits include Eric Clapton, The Tedeschi Trucks Band, Sheryl Crow, Roger Waters, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, B.B. King, T-Bone Burnett, Elton John, Gary Clark Jr., Gregg Allman, Dr. John, Allen Toussaint, Billy Preston, Erykah Badu, Questlove, and Meshell Ndegeocello.
“I’d been busy touring and producing for other artists, and so I took a hiatus from recording and performing as a solo artist,” he explains. “All those experiences actually helped me develop new skills and I learned how to facilitate my own sound. I feel like the stars finally aligned to allow me to be completely myself as an artist for the first time — singer, guitar player, songwriter, producer — and take things that were happening in my life and put them into music.”
Rich Man opens with the pointed “Mama Can’t Help You,” a “call for a reckoning,” says Bramhall, about “entitlement, accountability and taking responsibility for yourself, your circumstances, actions and resulting consequences.” It begins with the voicing of R&B drumming great James Gadson (Bill Withers). Bramhall says he wrote the tune expressly “for his groove, because no one has that groove!”
Watch a newly published video interview with Bramhall, in which he recalls his experience of recording with Gadson in the studio, accompanied by footage of Bramhall, Gadson, and bassist Tim Lefebvre at work.
For more on Doyle Bramhall II and Rich Man, watch the video “Acoustic Guitar Sessions Presents Doyle Bramhall II,” produced by Drum’s sister publication, Acoustic Guitar magazine.
Visit Doyle Bramhall II’s website: db2music.com.