“I don’t think that this complicated and tragic mess we’re in these days will soon pass,” says singer-songwriter Randall Bramblett, reflecting on the state of the world. “I’m afraid things have gotten worse over the last decades in many ways. I have a lot of sadness and pessimism about the state of our world–the climate, politics and issues of equality.”
For someone who views this climate in such downtrodden terms, it’s heartwarming to hear that his songwriting hasn’t taken a depressing or gloomy downward trajectory. In fact, his new single “I’ve Got Faith in You” from his upcoming new album Pine Needle Fire is as optimistic and caring as one can be.
Directed at someone who has reached the end of their rope, “I’ve Got Faith in You” serves as an encouraging lifeline to combat these feelings of distress and despondency. Written a few years prior to the current state of isolation and social distancing, it takes on even more significance in these times. “I guess I’m still cautiously optimistic that in the long run, we’ll keep progressing and taking better care of our world and each other,” he says. “These days, it doesn’t feel much like we’re progressing in that direction. That’s why I feel that ‘… Faith in You’ is a message to me as much as anyone else. All this music is sad and hopeful at the same time…kind of like life can be, but there’s a spirit in these songs that reminds me that joy and beauty are always here too.”
He sings in his comforting, midrange register, “I’ve got faith in you / Even if all the sad things that you say are true / Someday, these clouds will all blow through/ I’ve got faith in you.” It’s a sentiment that sounds genuine and trustworthy, a pierce of sunlight through those dark clouds we seem to be encountering all too often these days.
“Pine Needle Fire is filled with people on their different journeys through life…experiencing loss, getting up before dawn to go to work, knowing time is running out, remembering lost love, hearing the wolf at the door and feeling lucky to be alive,” he explains about the songs on the album and the search for that silver lining throughout all this. A seasoned veteran of over four decades releasing his own music as well as composing, recording, and performing with Steve Winwood, Bonnie Raitt, Widespread Panic and Gregg Allman among others, it’s no surprise that a song as effortless as this seemed to flow freely. “Jason Slatton and I wrote ‘I’ve Got Faith in You’ several years ago,” he says. “I thought it fit in nicely on the record as a voice of encouragement and support.”
The rich and warm tones of the song are owed in part to a guitar on loan. “We were able to borrow Duane Allman’s original Gibson SG for that session and my old friend, Tommy Talton, used it to play a beautiful slide guitar solo,” Bramblett recalls. “Since Tommy knew Duane when they were both living in Macon, GA, using that guitar created a circle of sound and memory for us all. It helped capture the feeling of longing and hope that we needed to complete the record.”
Arranging the session in the age of COVID-19 however was tricky. “Hearing Tommy play that guitar with his unique sound at Gerry Hansen’s studio in the middle of a pandemic was moving on a lot of levels,” he continues. “It was risky even getting Tommy to come over from Atlanta to Lawrenceville for the session. He had been staying very close to his home since both he and his wife have been struggling with health issues over the last few years. It was also touching to think that Tommy was playing that particular guitar since Duane was our hero back in the early days in Macon.”
A road-weary musician who spent a good majority of his performing years on tour, Bramblett is cautiously hopeful for the future when he and his band can return in front of an audience. But he’s willing to try. “It’s definitely a new world now,” he says, considering the dismal outlook for live shows. “I’m not sure how we’ll reach people these days. All the gigs that we do have booked are scaled down and mostly outside. They all create a certain amount of anxiety and entail risks that we never had to deal with before.”
Like many other musicians, he’s experimenting with the online performance environment as well as scaled back live shows. “I think we’ll be doing a lot of streaming videos and smaller safer venues,” he admits. “So much depends on how long the dangers of travel and association on a stage last. I’m afraid a lot of the old ways of touring and gathering are forever changed. My feeling is that we’ll be relying on our record company, New West, to help us figure this all out. We’re all just learning as we go and hoping for the best.”
For now though, that’s all Bramblett can really do, but this new reality does nothing to ease the anxiety and feelings of isolation. “I’ve just recently become aware of the grief I’ve been feeling about losing the experience of playing with my best friends and connecting with our audience,” he admits. “I’m looking forward to just being able to get together with people without having to wear a mask or being afraid of getting too close. Humans need those close interactions with other humans. We need to be able to feel hugs and see expressions on faces. That’s what I miss most about life right now.”
Pre-Order Link: http://newwst.com/pineneedlefire