GLR Artist Spotlight: Brennan
Most of us have a hard time figuring out what to do with our lives, but for Boston based singer/songwriter Brennan Wedl, it’s simple.
Plan A: folk songstress. Plan D: nun.
Hailed as “the love child of Nancy Sinatra and Elliot Smith,” the 21-year-old Minneapolis native has made a name for herself in Boston – literally. Performing under just her first name, Brennan finds inspiration in everything from Bob Dylan to convents to interior design, blending gaudy storytelling with barebones arrangements to create folk-inspired tracks unashamed of their sensitivity and spunk.
Music has been a part of Brennan’s life for as long as she can remember. Using her violin lessons (that were taught by a nun, no less) as a jumping off point, her musical journey quickly went from classical to pop, with a middle school-aged Brennan begging guitar teachers to let her play Taylor Swift songs. As for songwriting, she can pinpoint the specific moment she first felt a passion for lyrics, and it involved Bonnie Raitt. After having a spiritual experience hearing Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me” while driving in the car with her mother, a young Brennan realized the power that words can have over listeners. “I think I made a subconscious decision that I wanted to make music that made people feel what I was feeling in that moment,” she explained.
Ever since then, Brennan has been sitting in empty bathtubs or strolling around Valencia putting her thoughts and feelings about God, politics and New Jersey folklore into words with refreshing honesty.
Honesty – a quality crucial to Brennan’s creative process. When struggling to find her sound, she was first drawn to folk for its frankness. While it took her some time to figure out what the genre meant to her, she settled on a simple definition: truth. “[Folk] is honest. Sometimes it means you have to write about what hurts and sometimes it means you don't have a pretty singing voice,” said Brennan between bites of her bagel. “It’s pure. It sounds dumb, but it’s true.”
And there’s no question that she believes it. Brennan uses her lyrics like therapy, writing songs to get through the trials and tribulations of her life. “When I’m really having a tough time with things, I write songs,” Brennan explained, chuckling at the cliché. “I write so I can feel like I’m growing somehow, like something is changing.” Her music has become a kind of time capsule – her lyrics capture all of the distinct phases she passes through and, along with her whimsical, stripped-down sound and gritty voice, create music that is as blunt as it is sympathetic. Her songs touch on all of the quintessential themes of youth, with Brennan writing about love, heartbreak, and the confusions of young-adulthood with a biting voice and resonance in mind. “I want as many people as possible to identify with my music,” Brennan explained. “If they’re willing to level with me and get on board with what I’m feeling, that’s so cool. I write for them.”
Brennan doesn’t want people to only identify with the sad stuff, though. Her new single “Shooting Blind,” released Feb. 15, is a departure from the “lovey-dovey feel” of her previous releases. The track is an exploration into the singer’s more playful side and features a full band, consisting of friends and fellow Berklee students Austin Corona, Zack Page and Sophie Potrykus. Brennan had the idea for the track while commuting around sunny Valencia, Spain, never once sitting down to write. Less serious and more silly, this new single was written to get stuck in people’s heads – in a good way. “I wanted to make a song that makes people happy but, to be honest,” Brennan confided, “I just really wanted to make a song people could listen to in the car, over and over again.”
What’s next for Brennan after her single? College graduation, maybe a move to Nashville – in other words, adulthood. And, unsurprisingly, a new EP that will capture all of the complicated feelings surrounding it.
Oh, and hopefully more run-ins with nuns.
BY OLIVIA MASTROSIMONE
Olivia Mastrosimone is an English major at Northeastern University and a member of Green Line Record’s Media Department.
2/16 @ Marshlands (w/ Plumes and Mystery Gems)
2/23 @ Juiceworld (w/ Dirt Buyer and Honeycutt)
2/28 @ Outpost 186 (w/ Raavi & The Houseplants and Runnerup)