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When Pieta Brown graces our shores for the second time later this month, it’ll be riding high on the release of her fifth record, Mercury, an album that continues on in that rich vein of alt.country melancholy begun with her eponymous debut in 2002.
It’s a record of deep moods and soaring imagery, it’s ethereal really, and in fact, from the ether is where a lot of it came from. “The recording of it was definitely strongly influenced by this dream I had,” Brown recounts. “I had these songs going through my head and was really beginning to think about recording, and [about that time] I had this dream about a barn, somewhere in Alabama, which is where I grew up.
“So I walked through this barn (in the dream) and it was all kinda rundown but really beautiful… and I thought, ‘I really want to record here’, and I walked out the back and there was this guy sitting in these old bleachers,” she smiles. “And there was an instrument case sitting next to him, with some sort of instrument I’d never seen before.”
The funny thing here, says Brown, was that a few days later she reached out to a friend based in Nashville looking for somewhere to record and he’d just converted his barn into a recording studio. “He sent me a photo of it, and it was so much like in my dream, that I felt like it was meant to be,” Brown laughs.
From there, Mercury came together with remarkable ease, being laid down in only three days, all live, all musicians together in the same room, a recording method Brown had not utilised in the past. “It was really fresh, it just felt really ‘in the moment’,” she concurs. “Usually, with headphones, you’d be playing to the song, but here they were playing to me, [we were playing to each other].”
It gives the record a remarkable earthiness, something which is buoyed with the addition on the track So Many Miles, of one Mark Knopfler. “Oh, that was an honour to have Mark on,” Brown smiles, having recently played support for a run of Knopfler shows through the US. It was on that tour last year, incidentally, that Brown wrote Mercury’s closing track, No Words Now.
So Mercury came together like a dream – literally, in some cases – and marks the continued rise and rise of an incredibly precocious player and songwriter.
Samuel J. Fell