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Sedona, Arizona, United States | INDIE

Sedona, Arizona, United States | INDIE
Band Folk Acoustic

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"Arizona Band Decker Rocks Lompoc in Support of its Freshman Release of Gritty Acoustic Rock Songs"

Creative types have long been drawn to Sedona, Ariz., for inspiration. Perhaps it’s the beautiful red rock formations glowing orange in the sun that set the backdrop for creative thought. Or maybe it’s the spiritual aspect that some claim surrounds the area. Or maybe it’s a little more vague than that.

Brandon Decker headed to Sedona after attending college in Phoenix in a quest to clear his head and sort his thoughts. The result was his debut album, Long Days, a gritty acoustic retelling of life, relationships, and redemption.

“I guess I’ve had an interesting life,” Decker explained. “It’s kind of like my cathartic dealing with different experiences.”

The album was entirely written and recorded in Sedona in collaboration with several local artists and an Arizona independent label, Mescal Porch Records.

The tracks are mostly acoustic-driven and have been dubbed “folk grunge,” but the addition of synthesizers and multi-layered harmonies lends greater musical depth.

With a degree in philosophy, Decker explores life experiences and a somewhat troubled youth, resulting in songs that are real and lyrics that are gripping.

“As a kid, I moved a lot. I always had this gypsy-type lifestyle or something like that,” Decker said. “I’m 29. When I was 24, I sort of put my life behind me and really started writing songs.”

Definitely heartfelt, the tunes don’t come from a dark place. They’re catchy at times, often gripping, and always soulful, with influences from Tom Waits, Bob Dylan, and PJ Harvey.

“At first glance, it seems a little dark, but it’s my exploration of the way life is and what it can be,” Decker said.

Decker will be taking his work on the road as he embarks on a seven-week tour from San Diego to Seattle in support of the album’s release. He’ll be performing as a duo with Nanci McDonald, whom he met shortly after completing the recording of Long Days. The duo found an instant musical bond, creating a unique, melancholy sound.

During their live performances, McDonald provides cello and vocals to Decker’s lead vocals, guitar, and harmonica.

Decker said in every song, he’s taking a moment and trying to work through it honestly. The sincerity shows through in his performances.

“What we do is we try to capture the vibe of the album,” he said. “It’s really heartfelt music.”
- Santa Maria Sun


"Soul-baring songwriting punctuates new Decker CD 'Long as the Night'"

New millennium folk singers have a deeper treasure trove to dig through than their traditional counterparts.

It's as natural for a young folk singer today to borrow from the genres of garage-band grunge and European techno-pop as it is for the traditionalist to blend elements of gospel and blues into a sound that is uniquely folk.

A perfect case in point is Sedona's Brandon Decker, who professionally, and quite simply, goes by Decker. He's a folk singer in the tradition of Guthrie, Dylan and Townes Van Zandt. But he's not so locked into tradition that he will shy away from using horns, orchestra bells and Al Kooper-like organ riffs to accent and punctuate his music.

What Decker does, and precisely how he does it, can best be summed up on his newest CD release "Long as the Night." It's his second CD in as many years and shows amazing progress both lyrically and in terms of his understanding of the recording process.

With a vocal texture that's on par with Rod Stewart and Jack White and musical arrangements that fit each song like a glove, there is a lot to like about Decker's "Long as the Night."

But more than anything, and in the end what is always most important, the lasting impression of this CD is some of the most soul-baring songwriting you will ever hear. "Long as the Night" is not a collection of songs, but rather a singular collective statement. "You don't notice that while you are doing it, but when we were listening back to the final recording, I was very proud of the cohesiveness of the whole unit. I felt like there is definite subject matter links," said Decker. "I think it's because I wrote all of them in a two- to three-month span and that's where I was in life, so the songs really do all complement each other."

Biblical themes run deep on "Long as the Night." Decker wears his heart on his sleeve as he sings about doubt, temptation, sin, repentance, hope and redemption. "I think this whole album ended up being about the 'walk in the desert' theme from religion, especially the Abrahamic faiths. A lot of what kept coming up to me when writing was things like serpent, temptation, floods and rain, and trying to see the light," said Decker. "A lot of what I was writing was that I turned 30 this year and it's that push into manhood. Not manhood as a man but the next level of existence. How that came across to me and what kept coming up in my mind was things like Moses in the desert in exile and Jesus as he went out before he began preaching and the chants and hymns of the slaves."

In "We Used to Sing" for example, Decker metaphorically refers to Jesus' battle with Satan in the wilderness and the admonition that "man does not live by bread alone." The song, said Decker, "is probably as biblical as anything on the album ... Many of my songs start as this kind of breath of prayer and that's how this started ... Again, I was real focused on the walk in the desert and biblical themes like faith and transformation."

In "Western Hymnal," Decker delivers a psalm-like prayer for the sinner's soul. "I just wanted one of those songs like the old spirituals. When David Vincent Mills came over, he gave it this spaghetti western feel and I knew it would be the album opener because it had this riding-into-town-on-your-horse feeling. It's worth noting that David Vincent Mills, as much as anyone, saved this album. I hit a point where I was so down on myself and my music that I was pondering giving up. He came over one night and started laying piano and organ tracks down and the whole thing was invigorated. I am most grateful to him for that."

Perhaps the best song on the CD is "Bleeding Blisters." Life can throw you a lot of curve balls. The only thing that keeps you swinging is hope. Decker is adamant in this song that hope is the only thing that keeps you going. "Yea, and I hope ... and again, will I hope."

In Decker's case, when comparing this CD to his debut album from a year ago ("Long Days"), his improved vocal prowess is as evident as his growth as a songwriter. "I have learned how to use my voice better," he explained. "I think I'm still getting there in terms of finding my voice, but songs take a life of their own and what you try to do is corral yourself to answer them ... I really feel like I finally got the click this year. I don't know what happened, maybe it's just enough attempts at doing it, but now I know I can play and my songs are worth hearing and I want them to be heard."

As he did a year ago following the release of "Long Days," Decker will soon hit the road with 19 shows in as many days in 17 cities and five states. "I have to get it out there," he said. "I'm my manager, booking agent, promoter, web designer, and record label. I've spent the last year and a half working every second I can ... to pay for it and ... working on this launch."

He'll hit the road with a stripped-down band that will include Sam Cavanaugh, Matt Howey and Christian Jerman. In the studio, "Long as the Night" features a who's who of Sedona-Verde Valley-Northern Arizona talent: Jason Vargo, Jake Payne, Kelly Cole, Jay Fout, Christian Jerman, David Vincent Mills, Daren Burns, Eddy Barattini, Dave Rentz, Matt Howey and Gabriel Wolf. - Kudos, AZ


Discography

Long Days (c) 2009 Mescal Porch Publishing/ASCAP
Long as the Night (c) 2009 Mescal Porch Publishing/ASCAP

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Bio

“Every song is like a prayer.” So said a fan of Sedona, AZ singer-songwriter Brandon Decker, musically known simply as, “Decker.” This is not to say that either he or his music is religious by any means, but his songs delve into the human heart and the human condition. Not quite rock, not quite folk, his acoustic-based music draws upon a variety of influences; from Leonard Cohen to Tom Waits, from Cat Power to PJ Harvey.

On October 7, 2011 Brandon Decker will release a 5 song EP entitled, "Broken Belts, Broken Bones." The album will mark his third release in 24 months off of his own independent label, Mescal Porch Records.

Decker is a storyteller concerned with the chasm between how life is and how it could be. Speaking on the 2009 release of his debut album, “Long Days,” Decker said about his music, “in every song I’m taking a moment and trying to work through it honestly and sincerely.” Decker continued such work on his second release, “Long as the Night,” which he describes as “white boy gospel.” Part gospel, part spaghetti western, part folk rock, the album features eerie organs, reverb-laden choirs, and triumphant horns while bringing a fuller band sound than his debut. “It’s all about surrounding yourself with good people – musicians, friends, and family,” said Decker regarding the fuller arrangement on the album.

Aside from writing, recording, producing and releasing the albums, Decker has toured the country relentlessly, playing 200+ shows in the time span, tracking 30,000+ miles in his Dodge Caravan while performing in various clubs, coffeehouses and street performing to sustain his musical existence.

"…a gritty acoustic retelling of life, relationships, and redemption." Santa Maria Sun, CA

"Decker's freshman release is full of grit, tunes with a simplicity that had me singing along on the first listen and a depth that had me hearing new things on the 10th listen." Dave Manning, The My Home is on the Road Show, KWMD Anchorage, Alaska

"More than merely a debut album, Decker’s “Long Days” is a tale of redemption structured around a narrative framework rife with poignant lyrics." Kudos, AZ