Artist of the Month
Singer and songwriter Brennan Stoelb says that some days he feels, emotionally and physically, like a tumbleweed. Before moving to the West, the 26-year-old lived in Wisconsin, Tennessee, and Indiana; in January 2009 he blew into Ramah, about 50 miles east of Grants, to volunteer at the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary, where he was employed the next year.
Stoelb found that the sanctuary's isolation gave him time to work on his other passion--songwriting. While there, he wrote most of the songs on his sophomore recording, Tumbleweed.
Tumbleweed will resonate with those who enjoy the pensive songs of Bob Dylan and the gravelly, pulled-from-the-boots voice of singer-songwriter Ryan Bingham, who wrote the Academy Award-winning theme from Crazy Heart, "The Weary Kind." Stoelb's lyrics have a similarly personal, heart-on-sleeve sensibility that touches on bigger, more universal themes.
The first song, "To Be Alive," immediately engages the listener with its elegant simplicity, with Stoelb on acoustic guitar and Don Greiser on mandolin. Stoelb sings that while he hasn't accomplished everything he's wanted to, he considers each day to be a blessing.
With only the spare interplay of Stoelb's guitar and voice, "Anyhow" tells the story of his decision to leave a past love and move to New Mexico:
In the deserts of New Mexico
things out here just move so slow.
Like the drifting of a tumbleweed
I was only wanting to be free.
I know you said you love the trees
the desert stretches out forever.
I just thought you'd forget the weather
and come out here and be together.
Most of Stoelb's other songs here are supported by a talented band, and offer a variety of moods and tempos. In "Hunter's Moon" he sings of the desert's isolation, to a melody reminiscent of a Dire Straits song. In contrast, "It Ain't Death" has a lively country dance beat.
Other standouts include "Making Peace," a ballad about a young man coming to a place of understanding with his father, and the haunting "On the Line," about waiting for a lost love.
At press time, Brennan Stoelb was back in his parents' hometown of Jasper, Indiana, where he's working on his next album--but he plans to relocate to Albuquerque.