Drawing on decades of perfecting a signature guitar style and armed lyrics that favor simplicity and directness over polish and flash, Chase Bryant announces his long-awaited debut album ‘Upbringing,’ out July 16th via Green Iris Records.
Grittier and more honest than anything he has shared before, Bryant co-wrote 10 of the album’s 12 tracks, and his guitar skills and multi-instrumental musicianship have never been more prominent. The music is raw and exhilarating, captured live with an all-star band under the guidance of writer/producer Jon Randall (Miranda Lambert, Dierks Bentley). Embracing the album’s Texas roots, they recorded it over the course of a month at Austin’s famed Arlyn Studios. Backed by drummer J.J. Johnson (Gary Clark, Jr., Tedeschi Trucks Band) and guitarist Charlie Sexton (Bob Dylan, Lucinda Williams), Bryant and the band performed much of the material live on the floor, capturing the unmistakable energy and catharsis of the moment as he poured his heart and soul out into the microphone.
Born and raised in rural Orange Grove, Bryant grew up dreaming of a life in music, inspired in part by his grandfather, who performed with Roy Orbison and Waylon Jennings, and his uncles, who co-founded the chart-topping band Ricochet. Those dreams came true faster than Bryant could have anticipated, though, and fame and success arrived with a hefty price. By his early 20s, he already had two Top 10 singles and tours with the likes of Brad Paisley, Brantley Gilbert, and Tim McGraw under his belt, but it all felt inauthentic like he was playing a character with expectations he could never live up to. The harder he pushed back, the worse things got, and soon, Bryant barely recognized the man he saw in the mirror.
Recorded in the aftermath of a season of darkness and despair, ‘Upbringing’ is a searing, honest portrait of struggle and resilience from a songwriter finally learning to love and trust himself, flaws and all. That much is obvious from the rousing title track, which cuts to the chase at the very top of the album. “I ain’t changing who I am / ’Cause I’ve always been this way,” Bryant sings with infectious self-assurance. “Like me, hate me, love me, leave me / It’s in my DNA.” Like much of the record, it’s a song about coming to terms with who we are and where we’re from, about recognizing that our pain and disappointment and shortcomings are not signs of failure, but proof of our humanity.
The waltzing “High Drunk And Heartbroke” nods to Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson as it grapples with loneliness and self-medication, while the dreamy “Think About That” meditates on memory and regret. The bittersweet “Even Now,” which features Jessi Alexander on background vocals, aims to cut its losses and move on in the wake of a toxic relationship. Even the album’s lighter moments, like the driving “Cold Beer” and sensual “Selfish,” hint at deeper universal truths that bind us: the need for connection, for release, for love.
Though the journey to this moment nearly put him in the grave, Bryant is stronger now for his struggles, with a clear head, an open heart, and a remarkable full-length debut to show for it. Some may call it a comeback, but truth be told, it’s really more like a homecoming.
Listen to the album tracks “Upbringing” and “High, Drunk, and Heartbroke” here