After six years and three albums as part of Brasher/Bogue, Andy Brasher is going solo again with his first outing in 14 years, Myna Bird — from which opening track “21” is premiering on Billboard today (Jan. 15).
“It was terrifying at first, actually, because it was a big change, and our band was doing really well,” Brasher, who released his previous solo set in 2006, tells Billboard, referencing the duo’s history opening for the likes of Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw and others. “But I just had the pull to get out of the duo thing and start focusing on my own vision and what I wanted to write again. Even though it was scary, it felt like the right thing to do.”
Brasher adds that he and Dustin Bogue remain on very good terms and the band is “something we could go back to at some point.” Myna Bird also features some songs Brasher wrote during Brasher/Bogue’s tenure but weren’t good fits for the group. “They were just a little too much me,” he explains. “I had a catalog of that stuff that I wanted to do something with, eventually. When the opportunity presented itself I knew I would use those songs.”
Working with producers Harry Lee Smith (who’d worked with Brasher/Bogue) and Ross Hogarth, Brasher recorded Myna Bird at Blackbird Studios in Nashville. Four-time Grammy Award winner Hogarth, in fact, was serving as a guest engineer at Blackbird and stayed on Myna Bird through its completion.
“He fell in love with some of the songs as well, which was so great. He’s got the greatest ears and the technical skill,” says Brasher, who also re-recorded some songs from his previous solo album for Myna Bird. “I figured that with Ross and Harry both working on this it should be the best of my best, so I wasn’t afraid to go back and revisit a song I technically released before.”
Brasher was in a hotel in Indiana when he started writing “21” — “I thought I was gonna write the next ‘Mary Jane’s Last Dance,'” he quips, referencing the Tom Petty hit. “It turned out to be a little more personal to me.” As its title indicates, “21” is just a reflection of past times. “I don’t wish I was 21 again. I don’t want to be 21 drinking and throwing up in a bar. It’s a little about that, but it’s more about the passion, reflection on that sense that you could do anything that you wanted to and change the world and all of that — and also lamenting the loss of passion in this relationship that I’m describing [in the song].”
Though Myna Bird doesn’t take flight until April 3, Brasher has a full set of shows, mostly in the South and his native Kentucky, with plans to start venturing further during the spring to re-establish himself as a solo artist. “It’s just slow ’cause with Brasher/Bogue I had a band already put together,” he says. “Everybody knew their role; we were used to the routine of the road and all that. So I wasn’t just coming up with the material but also reorganizing my band and putting all the blocks together. It’s taken a little time, but I’m happy with it now.”
Listen to “21” below.