Union Transfer


Brett Dennen

Brett Dennen

Lily & Madeleine

Mon, October 24, 2016

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

Union Transfer

Philadelphia, PA

$22.00 - $24.00

This event is all ages

Brett Dennen
Brett Dennen
As common and simple as it is, "por favor" is such an evocative expression. From Spanish, it translates to "please," a word that suggests a need for something, a desire to make a change. "Por favor' was something I kept saying every day in the studio, and I got the other musicians saying it," says Brett Dennen. "We were goofing around, and Dave Cobb, my producer, said it should be the title of my new record. I laughed it off at first, but then I really thought about it."

"When you say please, you're asking something to come into your life," Dennen adds. "It might mean that you're weak and need something to make you strong. But you're admitting to some sort of weakness or some form of humility."

That notion is at the heart of Por Favor, Dennen's intimate and revealing new album that Elektra Records will release on May 20. Produced by Cobb, fresh from his Grammy winning work with Chris Stapleton and Jason Isbell, the record strips Dennen to his core as a songwriter with nothing to hide.

"All these songs came from a time of sadness for lots of different reasons. They came at a point when I wasn't feeling confident about myself," he says. "When I'm not feeling confident, I'm not a nice person to be around. I don't take care of my health, my relationships, my stuff, and it all cycles into a miserable place. And I have a really hard time admitting that I'm in that place."

A followup to 2013's Smoke and Mirrors, his sixth studio album dives deep into loneliness, loss, and love and all its side effects. It's the sound of an artist working through his insecurities in song, and thereby letting go of them. But it's by no means a sad affair, nor is it the "rainy day record" Dennen initially thought he was making.

Often framed by uplifting choruses and bright acoustic arrangements, these songs brim with optimism, the palpable sense that the tide is turning. "And I want to love you for the way you are/ Not the way I am/ So let's go now/ Back to the bonfire where we began," he sings over a chugging groove on "Bonfire."

On "Where We Left Off," the album's emotional powder keg, Dennen lays himself bare over the slack strum of guitar and one of his most unvarnished vocals ever recorded. The opening lines go straight for the jugular: "Everyone knows I'm a happy man/ But I haven't been right."
"Vulnerable was another word that kept coming up when I was making this record," Dennen admits. "Is there something I'm scared to say? Can I dig a little deeper, reveal a little bit more? How far can I go That was my direction, and once I got that in place, I started shooting down things that weren't in that zone."

"I kept telling myself that all I have to do is be authentic and make the songs about the lyrics and how they interact with my guitar," he continues. "I don't have to worry about whether they'll be on the radio or if they're different from my previous stuff."

Holed up at Cobb's Nashville studio, with musicians the producer assembled, Dennen and Cobb worked fast and kept the songs rough around the edges. Dennen appreciated Cobb's insistence on capturing them in just a few takes. "We recorded it the way people made records in the '60s - really fast, all on analog gear, very few rehearsals," he says. "We didn't do anything more than five times. We didn't second guess ourselves - we just went with it. It's not sloppy, but it's in that right place between loose and tight and feel good but not labored."

Cobb adds, "I worked with Brett because of his beautiful balance of wit and melody. He's very timeless in his writing and you really can hear his personality in every note he sings. The record was made totally live and we recorded all the vocals live with the band. It really was produced as stopped down as possible - we tried to make every note matter."

More than a decade after his self titled debut catapulted him to stardom, Dennen was once again attracted to how he made his earliest recordings. "My whole approach was that I wanted to write and sing the songs from the same place that I wrote the first record, which was a place of trying to discover who I am," he says.

That marked a detour from his most recent releases. With those he felt like he was exercising his craftsmanship - "being a songwriter for the sake of being a songwriter," as he puts it. "I really wanted this new album to come across as a whole piece," Dennen says. "I consider it to be a batch of songs that all live together and complement each other."
Which brings us back to the album title. Please.

"What was I asking for with this album" Dennen says. "I wanted to be a good person and feel good about myself again, but in a way that I knew it was OK to be sad. That's part of life, the ups and downs. But with these songs, I want to make people feel good about themselves and about life through the good and bad."
Lily & Madeleine
Lily & Madeleine
Lily & Madeleine's goal is to release an album-a-year for three years — a rare feat when the trend among singer-songwriters is to space albums by half-decades. So far, they're on track: Fumes, the duo's second LP, was released October 28, 2014, 366 days after last year's Lily & Madeleine.The sophomore album is a leap forward for the duo, a mature sentiment of two gifted young artists who have launched from their hometown onto the world stage with speed and grace.
When Indianapolis sisters Lily and Madeleine Jurkiewicz first started making music together, it didn't cross their minds that they could make a living at it. Although they now find themselves in an acclaimed full-fledged career, what got them here has nothing to do with money, and everything to do with the spirit.

"The music will always be first," says Lily. Indeed, Lily & Madeleine's artistic souls are obvious to anyone who has heard their recordings. From the beginning, the sisters' calling card has been the breathtaking and intuitive union of their voices.

"Their voices can pierce through the chaos of everyday life and actually make you stop what you're doing." American Songwriter

When the two come together in ecstatic and seamless "blood harmony," it's a sound that continues to haunt long after the songs are sung, leaving an electrical charge behind like a sparkling tracer in the air. Lily & Madeleine however, are equally distinctive as soloists as they are as harmony singers. When they step out individually as vocalists, Lily's warm, smoky alto is the counterpoint to Madeleine's crystalline, bell-like soprano.

That calling card is just as clear on their new material as it is on the cover songs the duo uploaded to YouTube for fun in late 2012. It was through these first videos that producer Paul Mahern, a staple of the Midwest music scene and frontman for punk band Zero Boys, recognized something special in the sister's sound and enlisted the help of songwriter Kenny Childers (Gentleman Caller). Mahern challenged the girls to write a song a day, with Childers as mentor.
It's that experiment that would become Lily & Madeleine's first EP, The Weight of the Globe. In early 2013, they released a sparse, simple version of first single, "In The Middle," to YouTube. When a neighbor of Lily & Madeleine shared the video on Reddit, the song hit the site's front page. Within hours the video received over a quarter of a million views. It also attracted the attention of Asthmatic Kitty Records. They quickly signed Lily & Madeleine and issued the EP on 10-inch.

Just a month after Globe dropped on vinyl, the duo re-entered the studio and recorded their self-titled debut, which was released in October of 2013 to both critical and fan acclaim. Of the music, Jon Pareles of the The New York Times writes, "the thing that flags them as extraordinary is their sibling vocal blend, deep and seamless and relaxed," while American Songwriter describes, "Their voices can pierce through the chaos of everyday life and actually make you stop what you're doing."

Since that release, the sisters have toured worldwide, including a sold-out U.K. tour and a very special capacity performance at the historic 1,200-seat Circle Theater with their hometown Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. They've played on live national TV (a slot on CBS "This Morning") and were crowd favorites at 2014's Lotus Festival. Yet, the girls have remained modest, sticking to hard work as their imperative.

As young as they are, Lily, 17, and Madeleine, 19, are their own women. The songs on Fumes acknowledge childhood's end and announce the entrance into adulthood—a place where the road ahead is unknown and sometimes dark. Facing the darkness head on, Lily & Madeleine at times hark back to the female-driven post-punk band The Raincoats, delivering a distaff perspective that is equal parts beauty and toughness, sugar and salt.

"The thing that flags them as extraordinary is their sibling vocal blend, deep and seamless and relaxed." New York Times

Many of the songs on Fumes also touch upon movement and transition, from leaving a situation to "find out who you are" ("Lips and Hips"), or to escape ("Cabin Fever," "Ride Away"). The album is very much a travelogue that speaks to the essence of a restless creative spirit, and the sisters' desire to break new ground.

"Fumes," says Madeleine, "shows our transformation as musicians and as women, and was inspired by our experience on the road as well as the life experiences of people close to us. It's a perfect reflection of this stage of our lives."

Fumes arrived October 28th, 2014 on Asthmatic Kitty Records.
Venue Information:
Union Transfer
1026 Spring Garden St.
Philadelphia, PA, 19123