Ahead of a string of performances bookending the US, Cleveland-based troubadour Brian Straw releases “Silent Partner.” The single is a bonus track from Straw’s debut full-length album, Baby Stars/Dead Languages, which was released in January to praise by new listeners, long-time fans, and critics alike.
A song about missed chances and making up for lost time, Straw wrote “Silent Partner” when he quit drinking and struggled to find himself. “This is a song of transition and the journey to becoming who I am. Moving away from pain and learning to embrace the now is a theme,” he says. “The range of emotions I was juggling is on display. Heartache and hope intertwine.” It also pays homage to one of his favorite artists. “‘At 42 I'm remembering what to do / gauge my worth to Earle's Transcendental Blues’ is a nod to Steve Earle and my goals as a songwriter.”
Straw started building his career in the early 2000s with tours of the US and Europe. However, alcoholism soon stalled his momentum, resulting in a hiatus from his musical output. After having his last drink in 2017, he resumed performances and began to refine and record songs that he’d been working on for years and those that came out of his journey to recovery. “This album is what happens after sobriety. The songs unfold in real-time. Everything I was dealing with emotionally went in the music,” Straw explains. “I was hard on myself. I carried around a lot of shame and regret. I broke down a lot. I lost my girlfriend. The making of the record became my therapy.”
While on the road to recovery, Straw remained active in the local music community by operating his recording studio/gallery space, Survival Kit, engineering live gigs, and working in the vinyl record industry. He first learned the ropes of vinyl mastering while working with a disc cutter and held several different positions before becoming a quality manager at Gotta Groove Records. “Record pressing is an archaic art form. Every record is different,” he remarks. Each limited edition double-vinyl copy of Baby Stars/Dead Languages is personally inspected by Straw. This unique special touch exemplifies both his creative nature and high sonic standards.
Fifteen years in the making, Baby Stars/Dead Languages introduces Straw’s deft compositional abilities and ambitious scope to a new audience while giving his long-time fans from his local scene the music they’ve been waiting for. The title symbolizes the beginning and end of a cycle, both ruminating on the difficult time he spent at rock bottom and celebrating finding his way back into the light.
This spring, Straw will be performing select shows in NY, DC, and WA, with more to be announced.
3.25 - The Footlight - New York, NY
3.26 - Lost Origins Gallery - Washington, DC
4.27 - Royal Room - Seattle, WA
4.29 - Honeymoon - Bellingham, WA