Logan Brill Picks Up the Tempo With Her Latest Album 'Shuteye'

Cameron Powell
Logan Brill photographed in 2015.

Logan Brill’s parents are on a mission -- to find the videotape of their daughter performing Marc Cohn’s “Walking in Memphis” at age 10 in a talent show. She tells Billboard they have been looking for a while.

“It’s lost somewhere in the closet,” she said, adding that the song is one of her favorites. What was it about the song that struck a chord with someone so young? “I think it was partly the lyrics, but I also think it had to do with the vibe of the song and the sound. I love Marc Cohn’s voice, and it was such a bluesy Americana thing. I remember being almost moved to tears at 10 years old.”

Brill’s love for deep and meaningful lyrics continue to shine through on her just-released sophomore effort, Shuteye, the follow-up to her 2013 debut Walking Wires. “I had a lot more perspective having made the album before. Having toured with the first record so much, I wanted it to feel like an evolution of me as an artist. I think that’s what artists do: You can’t put out the same thing every time. I wanted it to move a little more. I love my first record, but I had so many ballads, and I am a ballad lover. But with this album, I sought out songs that still had meaningful content but ones that got the crowd moving a little more.”

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The title track of the album kicks off that uptempo vibe, complete with some distortion sound effects early in the song. Brill says she and her producers, Oran Thornton and Matthew Miller, came up with that idea. “There’s so much going on all over the track and so many layers. So I think it added a little bit to it. We couldn’t figure out what the first song should be, and we decided to start off the bat with something that was loud and in your face. We wanted to make that kind of statement from the start of the record.”

But Brill still has a soft spot for traditional-sounding ballads, with “I Wish You Loved Me” closing out the album. “We debated on where to put that on the record when we first recorded it. I wanted it to be a breath in the middle of the record. You have all this stuff going on, and this would cause you to just pause and take a breath. But at the end of the day, we decided to close with it. Especially with it finishing with no music at the end, it just felt like a good final thing on the record.”

She said she enjoyed the recording experience of the song. “That track was probably my favorite one to cut, because we did it at The Castle in Franklin, which was Al Capone’s old hangout. There was a lot of cool stories behind that. We all got together in the same room, and it just jelled. I remember saying, ‘I don’t think we need to do that again,’ so we ended up using that vocal track.

With so many sounds and styles represented on Shuteye, does Brill stress about where she fits in? “Living in Nashville, and being on Music Row, it’s hard not to worry about fitting in,” she admitted. “I feel that on this record, I was intentional about bringing in all the styles that are part of my sound, which are country, Americana and blues/rock. I think that is why there are so many different kinds of tracks on the record. The lines are kind of blurred if you’re not doing pop-country these days. People think that country is what’s on the radio, and it is. That’s definitely one genre of country, but things like ‘I Wish You Loved Me’ feel very classic country and old-school.”

So far, Brill has had a 2015 to remember, with performances at MerleFest and Stagecoach, as well as her debut on the Grand Ole Opry stage. Each venue offers something a little different, she says. “There is such a definite reverence for the Opry, and it was my debut. So it was so cool going from Merlefest and Stagecoach, which were very different from each other, to the Opry. You walk out on stage, and there is such an eerie calm because of the history there. I still wanted to do what I did at Stagecoach. We did that on the first song -- ‘Shuteye’ -- and then we did ‘I Wish You Still Loved Me,’ which is so classic-sounding that it felt like it needed to be on the Opry stage. I joked that I was stone-cold sober onstage, and I can hardly remember it at all because there was such a rush of emotions, having so many family members there and the history of it. I remember walking off the stage thinking, ‘Did we just do that? I hardly remember what I did or said.'”

Brill will be on tour with Lee Brice this summer.