2017 proved to be a breakthrough year for Allman Brown: the momentum set in motion by 2013’s ‘Sons And Daughters’ EP culminated in a debut album release (the acclaimed ‘1000 Years’), which featured a number of old fan favourites alongside a batch of new songs.
Influenced by Bob Dylan, Tracy Chapman and Bruce Springsteen whilst growing up in Hong Kong, Brown latterly discovered and embraced musical visionaries such as Ryan Adams, Justin Vernon and Sufjan Stevens.
All these musicians -alongside a wide range of literary writers and filmmakers -have indirectly shaped ‘1000 Years’, a record that brims with emotions, varying styles and heart-on-sleeve lyrical honesty. Of the LP, R2 Magazine stated “This level of accomplishment would be rare in a more seasoned artist, but in a debutant it is quite breathtaking”, with Acoustic Magazine calling it “an album brimming with aching melodies”.
‘Sweetest Thing’ on the record was a significant moment for Brown. Immediately picked up by numerous high profile Spotify playlists as well as BBC Radio 2, the song reached 15 million streams by the end of the year and opened him up to new audiences around the globe. Two other songs on the record, ‘Ancient Light’ and ‘Sons And Daughters’, were featured on the smash hit ABC TV series The Good Doctor in November, soundtracking a particularly emotional episode finale.
2017 also saw debut live performances in Germany, Netherlands, Spain, Ireland and Scotland, sharing stages with the likes of Julien Baker, Palace and Siv Jakobsen along the way. It also included two notable sold-out headline shows in London, the latter taking place at Omeara in October, which marked Brown’s biggest ever hometown gig.
Never one to rest on his laurels, Brown spent much of his limited downtime working on new material with old friend and collaborator Liz Lawrence on production duties, after her work on ‘Palms’ on the debut LP (a track which also amassed several million streams in 2017). ‘Palms’ is a good indication of the direction the new music takes; the soft and subtle electronica of that track was a slight departure from Brown’s original acoustic-folk, and is something that very much characterises the new recordings.
Brown’s love of the last two War On Drugs records in particular, and a fascination with the twilight hours (“When the world is a more intimate place”, he says) are two things that have informed this musical evolution.
Lawrence’s production has also assisted in making the songs more complex and atmospheric: “Liz consistently finds innovative sounds to bring depth and sonic character to the songs”, says Brown. “In particular her ethereal and layered electric guitar work.” New single ‘Bury My Heart’ certainly fits this mould -engulfing from the outset, it very much draws you in to this new dream-like world whilst retaining Brown’s honeyed vocal and way around a memorable pop hook.