A Few Notes on the Artist You’re about to Hear
(From someone who has known her all her life)
Logan Brill’s parents can’t recall the specific moment when they first heard that voice and recognized it as something unique, but from the beginning, it was clear, expressive, and precise.
Logan not only nailed the notes but also the nuances, even before she could fully articulate the lyrics. And the expression on her face when she sang radiated pure bliss, whether she was channeling Keb’ Mo’ or Ariel from the Little Mermaid.
“I can’t put words to what I experience when I sing, but it’s always been something that’s comes naturally, like slipping on a familiar pair of shoes,” says Logan, who grew up in Knoxville, Tennessee. “In some ways, singing feels more intuitive to me than talking, and it’s always been a source of joy.”
The offerings on Shut Eye, Logan’s second album — all products of the storyteller’s art — range from blues (“Shut Eye”) to country (“Far Cry from You”) to roots (“Tupelo”) to newly-crafted songs that have the soft patina of revered old ballads (“Wish You Loved Me”).
“Recording my first record, Walking Wires, was enormously rewarding, but it presented me with a pretty steep learning curve,” says Logan. “When I began to work on Shut Eye, I had a much stronger sense of myself as an artist, and I built a collection of songs — a little blues and Americana and a lot of country and rock — that would reflect my tastes, demonstrate my growth and evolution as an artist, and get people out of their seats and onto the dance floor.”
It’s only fitting that Logan would want her music to incline people to move. By all accounts, she was an active baby, and the adjective her parents most frequently plied in describing her was wiggly. During her first year or two, her store of energy was inexhaustible but, as yet, largely undirected. In short, she just wiggled.
Then she found music, or, more accurately, music found her. Her mother, Susan, and father, David, had come of age in the 1970s and provided a perpetually-looping soundtrack heavily steeped in rock (the Stones, Beatles, Hendrix, Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, the Grateful Dead), Americana (the Band, the Byrds, Alison Krauss, Jackson Browne, Patty Griffin, Bonnie Raitt, Poco, the Eagles), blues (Vaughn, Clapton, Cray, King, Guy), and even reggae (Tosh and Marley).
“Growing up, I remember the house always being filled with music,” says Logan. “And if we weren’t listening to music, we were making it. Some of my earliest memories are of family sing-alongs where everyone had a part. As I recall, my first instrument was a metal mixing bowl and a wooden spoon.”
As a kid, Logan and her friends all listened to the same pop music, like Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, and ’N Sync. She recalls, “I was right there with every other preteen who loved listening to the radio with her friends and singing along to ‘Bye Bye Bye’ and ‘Hit Me Baby One More Time.’”
And then, at 10, she heard a song that moved her to tears: Marc Cohn’s “Walking in Memphis,” a paean to the cradle of Delta blues.
“It was the most soulful, aching song I had ever heard,” she says. “It affected me down to my core.”
Suitably, she opted to cover the song in the elementary school talent show (which she won, by the way), and that selection foreshadowed the future direction of her music.
“When I auditioned for the talent show, I asked my mom to come with me because I was so nervous about getting up in front of all those kids, teachers, and judges,” Logan says. “I didn’t have a backing tape of the song, so I had to sing it a capella.”
She recalls feeling scared and vulnerable. “But the moment I heard — and, more important, felt — my voice coming out of me, I experienced complete elation. I still experience the same high every time I perform.”
In the years since, she hasn’t strayed far from her early affinity for roots music, that gritty, authentic amalgam of blues, country, R&B, and folk. The tunes on Shut Eye are likewise grounded in that uniquely American genre.
“Country, blues, and Americana really speak to me because the very nature of each of the genres is to sing about everyday things in a beautiful, expressive way,” she says. “They plumb the rich meaning present in mundane and ordinary events and experiences.”
Following her move to Nashville, Logan began to cultivate her skills as a composer.
“I developed an interest in crafting my own songs, from the bones up, and I started co-writing with other artists around town,” says Logan. “I really came to love the process of sitting in a room with another writer, exchanging ideas, and collaborating on creating a whole that’s much more than the sum of its parts.”
Carnival, a Nashville-based record label and publishing company, soon took notice, and the company signed Logan on as a singer-songwriter. In 2012, she began a blistering tour of the eastern U.S. with her band and has since opened for such storied acts as Dwight Yoakam, Blues Traveler, the Band Perry, Steve Earle, and Merle Haggard. In 2013, she released her first album, Walking Wires.
Crafting that album allowed Logan to share the studio with some of Nashville’s established and most-respected musicians, producers, and engineers, something that wasn’t lost on her. Surrounded by top-tier professionals, she witnessed and experienced the process that allows what begins as the germ of a song to morph into full flower. The songs on Shut Eye came to life in much the same way.
In the song “World’s Still Round,” she writes:
Until a spark catches, you’ve got to keep on striking matches ’til you find the one that burns.
Though penned about unrequited love, the lines also serve as metaphor for the music business. In that regard, Shut Eye, this eclectic collection of “sparks,” will surely catch and kindle nicely. As for what comes next, rest assured that Logan, the artist, has a pocket brimming with fresh matches.