"Subconsciously, these songs were there the whole time.”
These words seem like an understatement coming from Brooks Paschal. After releasing three successful LP’s with the fan-adored band Sullivan and dozens of solo tracks over the past ten years, songs seem to emanate from all levels of the musician’s consciousness. However, Paschal’s new project Surprises is something different. It is cathartic, it is reckless, and it is personal — a striking new narrative from a familiar voice.
"The core philosophy of Surprises is: no rules,” Paschal says. “While writing, I’ve never thought to myself, ‘kids won’t like this,’ or ‘people’ will love this.’ In fact, if I do, I stop. If I sit down and try, it’s not going to come out right.” With instincts driving all direction, Surprises has taken Paschal into personally unchartered territory as a songwriter. Where conceptually all lyrical material for Sullivan was purely fictional storytelling, Surprises delves heavily into Paschal’s personal experiences. “I’ve never tried to write about anything,” he says, “but I noticed as I sat down, a lot of me was coming out, and I experienced the catharsis that I have always heard other songwriters talk about."
On most solo records, the fewer-moving-parts approach is sonically evident; however, with Surprises this is certainly not the case. Natural Disaster is a concentrated amalgamation of all the driving, melodic, soaring, and fragile moments that made Paschal’s previous work with Sullivan so appealing. “I feel all the differences,” says Paschal, “but I don’t know that they all translate to the listener. I think the biggest difference is that the record is all of my sensibilities thrown into the pot to create one thing. Surprises started as an escape for me,” he continues, “with Sullivan, there were certain expectations for sound and structure that I was in love with, but did not want to be defined by."
The timing for this nuanced stylistic change could not be better. Having both recorded and toured successfully in the early 2000’s, a sonic time period that many young emo/indie bands are now trying to emulate, Natural Disaster is set apart as an album that is both relevant and mature. Much of the authenticity of the sound can be attributed to all of the production, engineering, and mixing being handled directly by Paschal. “When I started with this batch of tunes, I realized I had tapped into something that I really loved and they all seemed to come from a singular place. I never felt the need to ‘produce’ the songs,” says Paschal. “A great song is almost always a balance of finely tuned ideas and serendipitous moments that can only be created once. I think more than anything, Natural Disaster was the product of years of writing without limits, and finally my brain had created ‘the sound’ of Surprises.
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