IMG_0125I wrote about Brenda Xu back in September (here), just prior to the release of her new album, For the Winter. I was smitten with the track, “Light of the Moon,” and reached out to Brenda to see if she and her band would be interested in coming in for a session during their tour of Southern California.

Wouldn’t you know it, they said yes. Rad. I was stoked. Totally Jurassic.

So on a warm October afternoon, Brenda and company came into the studio, instruments in hand, ready for whatever happens. Boy oh boy, I am so thrilled with what happened.

There are two kinds of fulfillment that I have come to know when working in the music business: one is the kind that you feel when you make something of your own out of nothing… the kind of satisfaction that you get when you walk in with nothing and walk out with a song that you can’t wait to show the world. The second kind is when you make something out of someone else’s music… it’s a different kind of satisfaction, but it fills you up just as much as anything else. I had the opportunity to feel both of those kinds of fulfillment during my time in Nashville not only as a songwriter but as a music director as well. In doing these Frontloader Sessions, I’ve come to experience the second kind of fulfillment on almost a weekly basis. I love it, I dig it, and I can’t get enough of it.

This session with Brenda kicked that need into high gear.

The music gods must have been smiling down upon us that afternoon, because the sound captured was so good that when I hear it, I want to tell my mom about it:

Me: Mom! You have GOT to listen to these recordings!!!!
Mom: Why? Did they get you an “A” in class?
Me: Uh, mom… I haven’t been in school for a few years now.
Mom: What? Then what have you been doing this whole time? You know your brother? He still gets straight “A’s” all the time.
Me: That’s impossible. He’s not a student, either. He’s a professor.
Mom: You’re right. He’s a PROFESSOR. How come you’re not more like your brother?

Anyhow, it was such a pleasure to watch them perform. Everything came together to make this delicately beautiful sound. From Ben’s steady drumming to Kacy’s accenting guitar work to Brenda’s soft yet dynamic vocals… I couldn’t have been more pleased.

Can you tell that I’m excited about this session?

Up first is “Light of the Moon,” the song that grabbed my attention so tightly from her album. I love her vocal performance, especially at the refrain at the end of the song. Like I said, soft yet dynamic.

“Light of the Moon”

“For the Winter,” the title track from her record, was the first song we did that day. Brenda and Kacy used a bit of delay on their guitars, which only added to this swirly, atmospheric sound. Totally dig.

“For the Winter”

Brenda asked me if covers were allowed for these sessions. “You betcha!” I said, and they proceeded to play The National’s “Terrible Love.” For those of you that know The National, they had an awesome album in 2010 called High Violet. I actually featured a song or two off that record here… awesome album. So you can imagine my response when I heard their version of “Terrible Love.” Dare I say that I like this better than the original?

“Terrible Love (The National cover)”

I dare say. Yes, I do.

Brenda and the guys just got back from a tour that stretched the entire Pacific coast. I’m so grateful they stopped by for this session, and I hope they come back next time they’re in town. Be sure to pick up For the Winter by clicking on her site in the links below. If you like what you heard here, you will be ecstatic with the record.

Check out pictures from the session here.

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