The music of Brian McSweeney has been a part of my life for nearly 20 years. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been anything new added to the catalog in quite some time. That was true until a couple of weeks ago when McSweeney quietly released his solo debut, Love Me Down. The record itself is phenomenal, but it’s something that the artist couldn’t possibly have put together back when I was first introduced to him. Time, life experiences, and the advent of new technology finally made it possible for the Brian to put out a piece of work that really taps into his full potential as not just a musician, or one of the best vocalists around, but as a poet and artist.
Brian was kind enough to take some time out of his day to chat with me about the record and how it came into being.
*excerpts below are only a portion of what is contained in the full audio interview*
Ryan: You made this album a while back and you’ve just now released it. Why the delay and what have you been doing in the meantime?
Brian: I made the album in pretty short order after moving to Nashville. I felt like I needed to get some music out of me, and it just came out in a burst. Once I had finished the record, the content was still very fresh in my life and I wasn’t sure how I felt about it and I just wasn’t ready to be that open. But I finally reached a place where I realized that time wasn’t on my side and I was finally ready to put this stuff out there.
Ryan: This music is very artistically different from what you’ve been known for. Was this a passion project to make that type of record?
Brian: I didn’t put a lot of thought into the sound when I went into making the record, but I had been listening to Ray Charles almost exclusively for like a year. I had discovered Ray Charles – of course, I knew who he was – and I had never really realized how brilliant he was. But I maintain now that he may be my favorite artist of my life. He may be one of the most talented people I’ve ever heard, for so many reasons. But I didn’t think “I want to make a soul record.”
Ryan: This record came out of the aftermath of a relationship gone bad?
Brian: Well, there are a few different relationships at play. Leaving the long-term relationship I moved to Nashville and within a year I met someone who was the complete opposite of that relationship. I met someone who I was really able to experience a lot of happiness with and experienced a feeling of being seen and appreciated. So, I was writing new songs or revisiting old ideas in the context of this new relationship. So what ended up happening – and it was almost unintentional – was that every other song sort of “leapfrogs.” One song might be fun in light of the new relationship and the next song might be a good bit darker.