The year 2020 wasn’t kind to a lot of folks (a lot), and Brandon Burnett was no exception. After his wife and musical partner Jessica Burnett was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, the folky singer-songwriter decided to go it alone, almost as a challenge to himself.
“Jessica was totally supportive,” Burnett said, “and we both came to the conclusion that if I felt it, I should do it.”
The result of his solo climb is Breaking Strings, a collection of 12 tracks rooted in the kind of soulfulness and gospel-tinged largeness blended with good storytelling which the Burnett Duo specializes in. The title refers to the singer-songwriter’s now-former nickname, “Broke String” Burnett.
“My wife was diagnosed with Crohn’s, and a lot of things in our life had to change,” Burnett said. “At first, I was devastated that she was in the hospital for a week, and the last six months have been fighting with doctors, drug companies, and infusion centers. As an artist, I had no idea what I should do. That’s why she was totally behind my decision to produce my own album. Her health is first, before anything else. Not gonna lie, it was an identity crisis, but I let the songs guide me, and I think it’s given me more confidence, and that can only help when I bring that energy back to the duo.”
On some of the new songs, Burnett narrates the process of writing, performing, and traveling as a musician. The title, he said, was sort of a challenge itself.
“I always have to come up with a concept for every album,” Burnett said. “That’s a limitation I put on myself to an extent. The songs that are more poppy are about the character writing songs trying to make it as a musician and trying to become a musician. I was creating this story, and it made it move for me.”
Burnett recorded Broken Strings at home, in a makeshift walk-in closet to be exact. Performing, engineering, and mixing all of the tracks himself took about a year. He was inspired by Jack White’s idea of freedom of limitations.
“It felt right, and that’s kind of what I do,” Burnett said. “I throw as much as I can at it and then take out a couple things. It was inspiring to me because you feel like you can get things done if you don’t necessarily have the money to put into it.”
Burnett said tracking on a portable recording device with some GarageBand tweaks helped him destroy any notions of perfectionism. “I’ve learned some things here and there over the years, but I’m happy with how it turned out.”
Burnett celebrated the release of Breaking Strings in June at Smokestack 1948 with a couple of local singer-songwriter friends, Ryker Hall and Debbie Bird. He also premiered his DIY video for the track “Bump in the Road” on his YouTube channel along with a few other videos for the album. Coming soon is the vid for the song “Drugstore Cowboy,” and he plans on releasing another album in the fall.
Burnett intends on touring soon solo but also picking back up where the duo left off. Not only does the Burnett Duo have a gig coming up at the State Fair of Texas (Sep), but they have a full album of material ready to go, Burnett said. The State Fair show will be sort of a comeback, he said.
“The duo will continue,” Burnett exclaimed. Jessica “might have to have surgery soon, so we are waiting on some medical things to happen, and she is working a full-time job. We are working on songs for our duo album while we wait on answers.”
Burnett’s former nickname originally had to do with his uncanny knack for breaking strings on his guitar during gigs. Now that name — a version of it, memorialized for eternity as his album title — has taken on a different, cosmic meaning.
“The metaphorical string theory kind of rises above space and time,” he said. “It symbolizes a lot of different things about challenging yourself and music rising above.” — Juan R. Govea
Contact HearSay at Anthony@FWWeekly.com.
Tue, Jul 13, w/The Matthew Show at The Post at River East, 2925 Race St, FW. 817-945-8890.