On The Verge: Brandy Zdan

Justin Joffe on June 25, 2018

The Other Side of Sadness

Brandy Zdan’s musical roadmap starts at home in Winnipeg, continues through her near-decade in the critically revered Canadian gothic-folk outfit Twilight Hotel and culminates with her sophomore solo album, Secretear. For this most recent release, the now Nashville-based guitarist/ keyboardist found a true band of true collaborators—My Morning Jacket’s Tom Blankenship and Carl Broeml on bass and guitar/pedal steel, returning producer and surrogate brother Teddy Morgan on secondary guitars, and Zdan’s husband/co-writer Aaron Haynes, whom she met about six months before the recording process commenced, on drums. Secretear’s riff-laden burners and mindful pop ballads shine with emotional resolve and permanence. The Nashville music scene also helped her think differently about collaboration. “I get called in to do backup vocals on a lot of people’s records and on demos, and then I also co-write with people,” she says. “It’s diverse, so if you can get around that stuff, play on a couple people’s records here and there and take a pickup gig, then you can make it happen.” Secretear’s a record about love, sure—the track “I Want Your Trouble” takes its title directly from something Haynes said to Zdan while they were dating—but it’s also a record about going to your absolute emotional breaking point in order to come out on the other side, stronger than ever. “I went to a place that I hadn’t gone before, where I couldn’t even form a chord while tracking a song and my voice was blown out,” she says. “You need death for rebirth in creativity—if you go to those places, you’ll discover new things about yourself, and new things about your art.”