Brett Dennen Por Favor on Limited Edition LP + CD
Produced by Grammy-Winner Dave Cobb (Sturgill Simpson, Chris Stapleton, Jason Isbell)
As common and simple as it is, "por favor" is such an evocative expression. From Spanish, it translates to "please," a word that suggests a need for something, a desire to make a change. "Por favor' was something I kept saying every day in the studio, and I got the other musicians saying it," says Brett Dennen. "We were goofing around, and Dave Cobb, my producer, said it should be the title of my new record. I laughed it off at first, but then I really thought about it. When you say please, you're asking something to come into your life. It might mean that you're weak and need something to make you strong. But you're admitting to some sort of weakness or some form of humility."
That notion is at the heart of Por Favor, Dennen's intimate and revealing new album on Elektra Records. Produced by Cobb, fresh from his Grammy-winning work with Chris Stapleton and Jason Isbell, the record strips Dennen to his core as a songwriter with nothing to hide. "All these songs came from a time of sadness for lots of different reasons. They came at a point when I wasn't feeling confident about myself," he says. "When I'm not feeling confident, I'm not a nice person to be around. I don't take care of my health, my relationships, my stuff, and it all cycles into a miserable place. And I have a really hard time admitting that I'm in that place."
A followup to 2013's Smoke and Mirrors, his sixth studio album dives deep into loneliness, loss, and love and all its side effects. It's the sound of an artist working through his insecurities in song, and thereby letting go of them. But it's by no means a sad affair, nor is it the "rainy day record" Dennen initially thought he was making. Often framed by uplifting choruses and bright acoustic arrangements, these songs brim with optimism, the palpable sense that the tide is turning. On "Where We Left Off," the album's emotional powder keg, Dennen lays himself bare over the slack strum of guitar and one of his most unvarnished vocals ever recorded.
Holed up at Cobb's Nashville studio, with musicians the producer assembled, Dennen and Cobb worked fast and kept the songs rough around the edges. Dennen appreciated Cobb's insistence on capturing them in just a few takes. "We recorded it the way people made records in the '60s - really fast, all on analog gear, very few rehearsals," he says. "We didn't do anything more than five times. We didn't secondguess ourselves - we just went with it. It's not sloppy, but it's in that right place between loose and tight and feelgood but not labored."
Cobb adds, "I worked with Brett because of his beautiful balance of wit and melody. He's very timeless in his writing and you really can hear his personality in every note he sings. The record was made totally live and we recorded all the vocals live with the band. It really was produced as stopped down as possible - we tried to make every note matter."