Description:More than 20 years after rebelling against Nashville’s ubiquitous Stetson-Wrangler-and guitar formula, rising to the heights of country music fame as the long-haired Little Texas heartthrob on keys, Brady Seals continues to thrive on the edge of the genre, easing effortlessly into the role of the sl... moreMore than 20 years after rebelling against Nashville’s ubiquitous Stetson-Wrangler-and guitar formula, rising to the heights of country music fame as the long-haired Little Texas heartthrob on keys, Brady Seals continues to thrive on the edge of the genre, easing effortlessly into the role of the slightly subversive renegade who’s not afraid to say “ho” on country radio. His latest solo effort, Play Time, is a no-holds-barred celebration of “long-legged, half-wasted” party girls, dance club debauchery, illicit smoke breaks and a certain prize-winning marijuana crop. “There’s no question of this being a really adult record,” Seals says. “It gets raunchy and raw. But I’ve always wanted to make music that affects people. Love it, hate it. But you can’t ignore it.”
Neither can you ignore a talent as enduring as Seals, who has successfully reinvented himself throughout his career, while always remaining true to his musical roots in rock-tinged country. At 16, Seals left his home in Ohio as a touring musician, and by 21 had scored three #1 hits with Little Texas—all of which he’d co-written, winning him the ASCAP Triple Play award. He went on to release three solo albums in the late 90’s before forming and fronting the quartet of player’s players known as Hot Apple Pie, with whom he scored a top 20 hit (“Hillbillies”) and opened for such superstars as Keith Urban and Tim McGraw.
As an artist who’s spent the better part of his career in bands, Seals’s excitement over his latest effort is charged with mixed emotions. “The great thing about being a solo artist,” he says, “is that you don’t have to compromise at all when it comes to the music. Hire whoever you want for whatever song you’ve got &amp;amp;amp;amp; make it the best it can be. On the other hand, as a solo artist you don’t have the band to share the excitement with you.” At present, Seals is enjoying the best of both worlds, basking in the creative freedom to finally record the country album he has always wanted to make, while welcoming Hot Apple Pie’s musical contributions and infectious enthusiasm on three tracks on Play Time.
“When we began to look at doing a second Hot Apple Pie album, it became clear that we were all on different pages. I just felt it was time to do my own thing – whatever that might be.” Ultimately, it was in writing “Eeny Meny Miny Moe” that Seals ultimately found the tone he’d been looking for and the direction he wanted to go with the project. Playing like a pick-up artist’s theme song, the track is as whimsical as it is risqué. Wondering whether anyone would actually take it seriously, Seals had the epiphany that led him down the path to Play Time. “I just want to have some fun. It’s time to play.”
And play he did. In reference to the ganja-growing “Farmer Brown,” Seals laughs: “That was a true story that someone told me, and I just had to write a song about it—with names changed to protect the guilty, of course.” Seeking to capture that Appalachian Bluegrass twang (“Like The Darlings on Andy Griffith, you know?”), Seals time-compressed his vocal, later speeding it up to achieve the higher-pitched sound he desired. From selecting songs, to hiring musicians, to experimenting in a variety of Nashville studios, Seals reveled in his complete creative control.
Of course, he’s the first to admit he had help. Having studied, over the course of his career, under Rodney Crowell, James Stroud, and Stan Lynch, and having spent the last couple of years developing and producing up-and-coming artists on his own, Seals discovered that when it came time to start working on a new solo project, he possessed the expertise, the confidence, and the instinct to man the helm. “I think a big portion of producing is having the right players, the right studio, the right engineer, and of course the right song,” he says. Not to mention access to a deep talent pool.
Play Time features contributions from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers drummer Stan Lynch, who co-wrote and plays on “Trucker Song,” an ode to the free-wheeling vagabond’s existence that has become Seals’s favorite tune on the upcoming album. “What a joy to watch him create in the studio,” Seals says. “Here he’s worked with Don Henley, Jeff Lynne (Electric Light Orchestra), and I was able to find out all his secrets. Just to sit down and hear his stories is priceless.” Seals also worked with pop icon Richard Marx, with whom he co-wrote “You’ll Come Running” some time ago. “The album track is actually an old demo I did with Richard a while back that I ended up digging out and re-mastering because I really loved the original recording just the way it was.”
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