California born and raised and now Nashville ex-resident Brigitte DeMeyer made several strong records while in Music City, collaborating with Buddy Miller and more recently with Will Kimbrough. As she now returns to her native state, she brings with her another gem, Seeker, co-written and produced by Jano Rix, The Wood Brothers multi-instrumentalist, who also appeared along with Oliver and Chris Wood on DeMeyer’s 2017 collaboration with Will Kimbrough, Mockingbird Soul—along with engineer and Grammy-winning producer Trina Shoemaker (Sheryl Crow, Dixie Chicks).
Written and recorded over a two-year period, Seeker reflects one of the most transformative periods in DeMeyer’s life. The Wood Brothers trio is joined by bassist Viktor Krauss and Alfreda McCrary of the McCrary Sisters. While Chris Woods shares the upright and electric bass spots with Krauss, they added some session players as well with Ted Pecchio (bass) and guitarists JP Ruggieri and Kris Donegan. Many songs, however, feature just a couple of players as Rix handles multiple instruments. DeMeyer’s voice has been favorably compared to Sheryl Crow’s but it has a bluesy earthiness that Crow has mostly long traded in. Here DeMeyer, who wrote all the lyrics, is free to sing them and that she does wonderfully, saying “I just let everybody do what they do best, and I stood there and sand. The best way to make a record feel good is to be really comfortable with the people playing with you. It’s all about vibe.”
DeMeyer developed many close friendships in Nashville but had to relocate on account on her son. These friends, none closer than Alfreda McCrary, her best friend and godmother to her son, help her express a myriad of emotions. Rix offered this, “Brigette DeMeyer sent me a sheet of lyrics and we were off and running. Words with depth and bite, rhythm and ease. And her voice! Rarely do you hear a voice with such natural soulfulness, grit combined with beauty, let alone combined with lyrics so inspiring and poetic. I loved making this record and how it came out. It took us on a journey.”
Commuting between San Francisco and Nashville has become the norm and has not been easy as several incidents along the way contributed to these songs. No place is more accepting of singer-songwriters than Nashville so that is perhaps the biggest adjustment. Yet, she endured the personal loss of her cousin and his daughter due to a rogue wave accident in Hawaii within her first month in Northern California. She conquered a bout with pneumonia and an equestrian accident but kept it all together through her marriage, love for her son, and her passion for all things equestrian. These all are found in the songs, recorded in bits and pieces while Rix was on tour with The Wood Brothers, until DeMeyer eventually started going to Nashville to record a batch of songs at a time.
“All the Blues” is inspired by needing to lift the spirits of a hardworking cowboy friend. Using a southern term like “high cotton” is one small indication of how she absorbed the Southern culture, a reference to those who don’t know what it means to struggle. “Cat Man Do” rings in with a sly, sexy groove as DeMeyer paints the ostensibly smooth fictitious character who puts on airs but is really just like most of us, looking for that right partner. The bluesy, syncopated “Salt of the Earth,” a single, on the other hand, has DeMeyer reaching back to her Nashville community of kindred spirits. It’s the track with the most contributors, featuring the Wood brothers, McCrary, and the three session players. The stripped-down “Louisiana,” her personal favorite, is the only track where she wrote both the lyrics and music, penned while on tour in Paris, longing for New Orleans, one of her favorite cities back home.
”Calamity” is a straight-up protest song where Rix, the only accompanist, plays four different instruments and sings harmony. She penned the tender “Already In” for her husband, imbued by Rix’s mellotron and Ruggieri’s gentle acoustic guitar. The chords to “Ain’t No Mister” are jazzy and bluesy as DeMeyer calls out the would-be deceptive guy. “Wishbone” speaks to her equestrian mishap with a pace akin to a horse’s trot. The title track was written when first returning to the Golden State, DeMeyer feeling disoriented and yearns for her friends, knowing they are now 2,000 miles away. The closer “Roots and Wings and Bones” is not only dedicated to her son but to mothers who sacrifice so many things for their children.
So the album is both an emotive farewell to Nashville and a welcome home at the same time. DeMeyer now relies more on herself in California but finds herself approaching music more confidently and writing from experience. She also rests easily knowing she has such a talented group of close friends to make her music come alive as it does brilliantly here.