By Andrew Ellis, Editor-in-Chief
After two albums which drew from her as the main source of creativity, Breanne Marie had collaboration on her mind. She had thrown a band together pretty quickly to get her first album, Six Strings of Peace & Sanity, recorded. The Timothy John EP, in honor of her brother, was very personal and emotional so there wasn’t a lot of suggestions from the other members.
“With the new album, we all worked on this together,” she says of Wildflowers & Tumbleweeds. “I wrote the songs, fleshed out solo stuff with Evan and then we brought it to the band for arrangements, transitions and any creative ideas to make them come to life.”
The album spans the emotional spectrum and touches on different topics. And she’s had half of them for over three years.
“The songs are about love, heartbreak, raising kids, friendships and there are some non-autobiographical,” she says. “Which is new for me.”
Their first single, “Carousel,” is about childhood friendship. It’s inspired by her daughter Ava’s friendship with her friend Maggie. “Rocking Horse” was about a time when her relationship with her older daughter was in a tumultuous spot. The arguing led to Alyssa packing up and moving to her dad’s.
“My heart was broken. I thought I lost her forever,” she says, adding that she had Alyssa when she was just 17. Her leaving made her feel like she failed. “I wanted to write a song that would express how much I loved her, and tell her it was okay for her to leave if she felt she needed to.”
The title is a metaphor for a major frustration teenagers face. Marie says it’s a time of your life when you feel like you’re old enough to be on your own, but you can’t move out yet.
“You’re sort of rocking back and forth without being able to leave,” she says.
Possibly the edgiest song on the record, “Ain’t Been Home,” looks at the “bible thumping judgement” present in so many small towns across the country. She says it’s not autobiographical. The inspiration came from what many would call an American cinema classic.
“I’m a big fan of the movie Footloose, and these small towns run by religion are all over the country.” she says. “I guess those things were inspiration.”
She also drew from an internal conflict. There are aspects of religion she loves and hates. For instance, she knows it helps her mom.
“I think faith is a beautiful thing that has the ability to save lives,” she says. “It’s keeping my mom alive.”
Then there’s a song like “Would You?” It centers around a girl whose life is a little chaotic because she travels around playing music. But there’s this guy she likes and she wants to know what he would do for her.
“It’s sort of a ‘You like me, too, huh? Well, prove it’ kind of message,” she says.
Marie doesn’t remember what inspired it, but it started with the opening lyric.
“’If I wrote you a song and I sang real pretty/ Would you come to my show/ Would you drive to the city/ Would you stay all night and lean in close ’cause I wrote it for you/ You and me both/’” she says. “Those lyrics just came to me so I wrote ’em down, tucked it away, and when I had time to put a guitar in my lap the rest of the lyrics came pretty quick.”
Then there’s the crazy “Babies in the River.” She was hosting an information session for a social work program and the program coordinator shared a metaphor for how the nonprofit and human services industries work.
“The imagery was so vivid!” she says. “Villagers running down to the river to pull one out after another. They’re too consumed with the business to do anything else, like traveling upstream to find out who keeps putting the babies in, or to come to shore and plan what to do with all the babies.”
It reminded her of her life. She has a full-time job, three kids, is in a band, pursues freelance writing, and more.
With those songs at the ready she was waiting until she had enough for a full record. The next step was launching a Kickstarter campaign like she did with her first album. The songs were ready, the band knew them like the back of their hands, and the fans had been asking for new music. She also wanted to use the Kickstarter to fulfill a lifelong dream.
“I wanted to raise over $8,000 so we could do a vinyl record, which was a lifelong dream of mine,” she says. “Go big or go home right?”
After the 30 stressful days the campaign was fully funded by 115 backers. She and the band are grateful but they’ll never do that sort of campaign again.
“All or nothing is motivating for backers,” she says. “But so stressful and time consuming for me and the guys.”
The album has been in fans hands for a while now, and there’s a few things she hopes they take away from it. First off, she hope they realize just how diverse the band can be. And she wants to assure people she can more than the kinds of sad songs that made up her previous albums. Oh, and one more thing.
“I want them to listen to this album and feel like they heard a bunch of stories of which a couple become their favorites,” she says. “And the catchy hooks have them singing it long after the record stops spinning.”