SONG PREMIERE: Bronwynne Brent Shares Lush and Soulful Rendition of Jacques Brel’s “If You Go Away” 

Spilling the tea of love and reading the leaves has been the leitmotif of Bronwynne Brent’s work for nearly a decade. “I know,” she sighs, folding into a southern drawl, “it’s not like I sit down and try to write love songs, but what else is more important than love?” Lauded by American Songwriter Magazine as “captivating”, Brent’s last release, Stardust, saw her voted Female Performer of the Year twice in a row by Americana UK and called up for television and radio appearances on the BBC. For her latest album, Undercover (due out April 10th), the Greenville, Mississippi native setup shop at Brooklyn’s legendary Daptone Studios. Conjured up with trusted collaborator and producer Johnny Sangster, Undercover is a deep Southern roux, combining simple elements of folk, blues, and jazz into a complex and flavorful brew of truth-imbued Americana.

A multi-instrumentalist, industry veteran behind albums for Maggie Bjorklund and Mudhoney, Sangster brought in Mikey Post (drums) and Ben Trokan (bass) to fill out her sound. In an unlikely combination with Sangster, Post and Trokan, better known as the runaway engine rhythm section behind the 60s revivalist garage-pop of Reigning Sound, lay a thick, soulful foundation for Brent’s folk songs. The result recalls the soul-burners of 1960s Muscle Shoals and country-folk stingers like Bobbie Gentry’s Ode To Billie Joe. Helmed by Brent’s singular, bold, alchemical voice, Undercover is a ferocious amalgam of American roots music, at once devastating and empowering. It’s Bronwynne Brent’s best recording, made at a studio famous for its soul, by a band known for revitalizing rock ‘n’ roll.

Today Glide is offering an exclusive premiere of Brent’s interpretation of Belgian crooner Jacques Brel’s “If You Go Away.”  With her own version, Brent succeeds in matching the emotional complexity and sardonic intensity that made Brel himself famous. She came upon the track while listening to Nina Simone records, and brought in another frequent collaborator, cellist Barb Hunter, to arrange strings into a symphony strong enough to make it a James Bond theme. Soulful and effortlessly cool, Brent strikes the perfect balance between emotional strength and vulnerability. This balance is the key to making this song hit with the force that it does, and it is the kind of song that only an experienced and talented artist can faithfully cover. With its mix of acoustic folk and soaring orchestral psych-pop, it’s also a truly original rendition. 

Bronwynne Brent explains the inspiration behind choosing to record this song:

“I first heard Nina Simone’s version of ‘Ne Me Quitte Pas’, long ago. It’s heartbreaking. It wasn’t until later that I heard Rod McKuen’s translation, ‘If You Go Away’. The sadness of the melody transcends any language I think. You have two different lyrics, I’m sure the meaning gets lost in translation a little, but the songs are equally aching to me.

I also love Shirley Bassey‘s version. I first heard Shirley Bassey on John Barry’s James Bond soundtrack. I always loved that as a kid and loved the movies too. I love cinematic music and big productions and strings but also the softness and quiet where you can really hear the lyrics. The way Johnny produced the song, it does both and Barb Hunter’s string arrangements brought me to tears. If you’ve ever had someone leave and never return, this song is for you.”

LISTEN:

Undercover is out April 10th. For more music and info visit bronwynnebrent.com.

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