Zach Bryan

Have you listened to this album? IT’S A REVELATION!

The insider buzz got to me. How could a guy have the same last name as one of the biggest stars in country music? I couldn’t take him seriously. But when I started seeing his name everywhere…

Let’s be clear, I’m not talking about consumer publications, that’s hype. I’m talking about trade publications. There’s hype there too, but they’re really focused on numbers, and they’re all talking about Zach Bryan, so I decided to check out the music.

And I’m stunned. This is closer to 1972 than 2022. This is mostly one guy on his acoustic guitar, singing from the heart.

So I start to do some research.

I’m late to the party. This guy had indie success, he’s got a hit on the country chart. But how is anybody supposed to know?

Also, you dig deeper and you see his music was featured in one of Spotify’s fakokta new programs, promoted by the streaming company. But that’s not the interesting part of that story, but the fact that people continued to play it. You can get it on the playlist, but will people listen to it more than once, will they save it?

The music is so AUTHENTIC!

Authenticity is rare these days. Do I really care what Britney Spears has to say about the Texas school shooting? At first I couldn’t find any musician weighing in, but then I searched. Were any of them canceling gigs, putting their careers on the line? Of course not, that would be too much to risk. They’re no different from the Republicans, they offered thoughts and prayers. Remember when Boston called on James Brown to quell riots? Who would you call today?

The acts are so busy selling out that when you encounter authenticity you’re stunned, you’re drawn to it.

And it didn’t happen in rock. Because rock considers streaming the devil. Did you watch that Ted Gioia YouTube video with Rick Beato? It’s laden with so much b.s. I wanna puke. Why don’t people understand that streaming saved the recorded music business instead of killed it? As for Sony and Warner immediately selling their shares in Spotify, they didn’t do that because they thought it was gonna tank, they wanted that money right away, to add to their bottom line. If you think major label executives are thinking long term, you’ve never seen their contracts. All the action, the upside, is in the bonus, just like in Silicon Valley it’s in the low-priced stock options.

Not that anybody on the inside is going to listen to Ted Gioia. But my inbox is full of recs of this video. Yes, the key is to sell physical recordings, that’s the future for artists? Huh??? Do you see the movie studios putting all their energies into DVDs? Hell, it’s all about getting the product as soon as possible on their proprietary streaming services. And vinyl? Talk to anybody in the recording business, vinyl is an inherently flawed reproduction method and the vinyl “warmth” you’re hearing is mostly distortion. Never mind the inherent problems with the needle being at a different angle in every groove. And all these damn records are cut digitally to begin with. And now streaming services allow you to listen to them at HIGHER than CD quality. But you’re telling us to go back to vinyl? To come out with a better vinyl record? That’s like movie studios championing VHS tapes.

And there’s no understanding of popular music and the money involved. It’s a business.

I could go on and on, and not all of what Gioia says is wrong, but too much of the nuts and bolts is, and he’ll be steering the wannabe musicians and even the real musicians the wrong way. It’s not only the Republicans who are prey to misinformation.

Anyway, turns out Zach Bryan was in the military. And he’s from Oklahoma. I listened for right wing b.s., which permeates the country scene, I couldn’t find it right away, but I’m not sure it’s not there. But there are THIRTY FOUR SONGS! Yes, Zach Bryan’s new album, “American Heartbreak,” is two hours long. That’s double the length of “Exile on Main Street.” It’s gonna take a long time for me to digest this. But I wanted to hear it, I listened to the whole damn thing, it was more interesting than any of the usual suspect podcasts, more genuine, more lifelike, it’s what music can do that no other art form can, assuming you’re trying to get it right.

That’s the funny thing about music. Play the game by the rules and the result is rarely transcendent and ubiquitous. But go on your own hejira and your honesty might resonate with the public, blowing you up in a way that could not be foreseen.

And if you listen to Zach Bryan’s hit, with 92 plus million streams on Spotify, you’ll find “Heartbreak South” is sans all the studio tricks, it’s got a feeling of life absent from all the stuff on the hit parade. And he’s singing about being alienated and misunderstood, remember when that was the essence of hit music as opposed to bragging about how rich you are or singing about how you love your family?

And “Heading South” is almost three years old.

And those focusing on the marketing as opposed to the music will talk about the “Yellowstone” synchs, when the truth it’s in the MUSIC!

I mean start playing “American Heartbreak” from the top. You’ll be amazed, this is not in-your-face, this is just someone playing their music, you’re eager to lean in.

And unlike too many lauded singer/songwriters, Zach Bryan has a good voice. Bob Dylan could get away with having a less than perfect voice, BUT HE WAS THE BEST LYRICIST OF ALL TIME!

Another thing about “American Heartbreak,” its success is ahead of the usual suspect sites. I couldn’t find credits for the album on AllMusic or Discogs, which are usually extensive. The guy is in the spotlight, but the album in so many ways is still a mystery.

But one thing I can tell you is that Zach Bryan did not do it how everybody else does it these days, HE WROTE THE SONGS HIMSELF! At least that’s how it appears based on my research, like I said, there’s so little info.

But really it’s all about the music.

In case you haven’t been paying attention, the biggest album of the last eighteen months has been Morgan Wallen’s “Dangerous,” another double album. But on Bryan’s more than double album there’s none of the studio trickery, it’s not overproduced, it’s closer to one of the initial, magical Bonnie Raitt records, with that homemade feeling.

Maybe Zach Bryan is so good because he’s been removed, in Oklahoma and the Navy, he’s not in Hollywood groveling for attention.

Not that Bryan is Dylan, and…

You may click to stream and turn “American Heartbreak” off immediately. It’s not noisy enough, not punk, not loud enough. Or maybe you’ll lament the absence of beats. But that’s just fine, because there are enough people looking for this stuff to build an audience and a career.

Zach had to prove it independently before Warner got on board. That’s the majors for you, they don’t believe in it until you prove it, they don’t want to take a risk.

But Zach Bryan is not a business story, it’s a MUSIC story.

And I’m not gonna provide any links. Either you’re interested in checking him out or you’re not. That’s right, a real music fan makes an effort…is looking to be plucked from the desert, saved by what they cannot articulate, but they know it when they hear it.

And in this case it is Zach Bryan.

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