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Brian Wheat is back again with “Looking Alive”

blog by Avery Hartmans  • 

Western New York native Brian Wheat is leaving the area for Minnesota, but not before he presents us with his second album, “Looking Alive” – 10 carefully crafted tracks that chronicle both his exploration of Buffalo and his yearning to leave.

The album is well-constructed and precisely executed, a compilation of songs that mark Wheat’s transition from Buffalo to Minneapolis and from relative unknown to established artist.

The singer/songwriter described his newest CD as heavily influenced by his feelings toward Buffalo. Many of the tracks are about “becoming involved in a city, entrenched in a city and letting it become part of you and vice versa, then also making a move toward leaving,” Wheat said.

The album is also a departure from his first album, “Where Have You Been,” in that it’s not quite as heavy. “There’s a little more lightheartedness than the previous one. The previous one was really introspective,” Wheat said. “I think of this one as more of a spring or summer album.”

Many of the songs on the record do have a distinct, summertime feel to them. The album features tracks such as “Looking Alive,” a ballad that showcases Wheat’s poetic and heartfelt – never sappy – lyrics combined with his effortless guitar playing. The song has an Iron and Wine meets Willie Nelson vibe, two artists that have influenced Wheat’s sound.

When it comes to songwriting, Wheat said that every song came about differently: “It’s a long process. I focus on the lyrics and what I have to say in the songs quite a bit.”

He also noted that, in his second album, he tried to challenge himself when it came to his songwriting. “There’s a couple songs that I set out to write in an afternoon instead of giving it that long thought process,” Wheat said. “I said, ‘I’m going to try to write a song in a half hour and see what happens,’ just to kind of challenge the way I do things.”

Wheat also stepped outside when it came to the recording process itself. This included recording some tracks live and using analog mixing instead of digital – a more old-school process that presents different challenges than digital mixing.

Wheat has no plans to slow down anytime soon, either, despite his upcoming relocation. “I want to continue to play it, continue to make it, and continue to challenge myself. As long as I can continue to grow and do my craft, I’m good with it.”

Brian Wheat will host a CD release party at 8 p.m. this Friday at the Elmwood Lounge. He will be joined by Pete Gerace, Jim Whitford and Rob Lynch, with Cassi Meyerhoffer opening and After Hours performing after hours. For more information on Brian Wheat, visit brianwheatmusic.com.

TAGGED: brian wheat, cd release, elmwood lounge, looking alive, music

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