Acclaimed New Zealand-born singer, songwriter and guitar player Ted Brown had a promising career fronting his own band before he became firmly entrenched in a drug habit that sidelined him for 7 years. Though he’s now been sober for over a decade, the modest and private musician has kept his powerful story to himself. With his second album, An Unwide Road, he shares his journey with an elegantly spare and tenderly introspective record.
“The meaning of the title is twofold. On one hand, it references how little country roads take you to the most awe-inspiring places,” Ted Brown says. “But it also refers to my life. I spent years doing exactly what I wanted and I hurt myself and other people. I have this great life now, but the road is much narrower—I don’t get to do what I please—but the outcome is so much better.”
Ted Brown is the recipient of a NZ music award for “Most Promising Male Vocalist” and has contributed to recordings by many artists both in NZ and in his adopted home of Los Angeles, California.
He’s earned cult credibility through his Kiwi band The Tunellers; that band released an EP, a video, garnered airplay, and was on the periphery of the indie scene centered around the iconic Flying Nun Records label.
In recent years, Ted Brown has been best known as a guitarist, background vocalist and collaborator with his friend Greg Johnson, a Kiwi musical icon now living in L.A. Brown has toured extensively with Johnson and played on his last five records. Parallel to this, Brown’s toured as a solo artist and in 2007 issued his critically acclaimed solo debut Shaky’s Blessing. The title track from his current album, An Unwide Road, has the distinction of making the semi-finals of the International Songwriting Competition.
An Unwide Road is a confessional album looking back at a tumultuous past from a centered present. The pastoral folk of the standout “Love Is” looks at the void we all feel inside and try to fill with drugs, drinking, shopping, and other empty pursuits. This is the album’s first single.
“Bringing My Past Back (But Not To Haunt Me)” is the aftermath of failing to fill that void with drugs. It features a stunning vocal performance captured with the organic ambience of a Sun Records-era rock-n-roll ballad. “That’s about moving forward. To move forward, I have to look at my past, make some amends, but at the same time I can’t get bogged down by the past, that would ruin forward motion,” Brown says.
The sweetly lonesome “Looking For Home Down Hallways” conceptually ties the aforementioned two songs together through a big picture look at the human condition. “We’re all looking for something as human beings. We look for it in another human being, in a job,” he says. “It’s all the same void but we look in different places and, hopefully, eventually find our way home.”
Ted Brown recorded the album at Roundhead Studios in Auckland, New Zealand, with producer Wayne Bell. The refined simplicity of the production aesthetic aptly reflects the intimacy and authenticity of this body of work. It was tracked studio live with minimal overdubs and artfully placed mics to vibrantly capture Brown’s stirring studio performances. Although the core is Brown singing and playing guitar, each track is delicately embellished with contributions from some old friends.
“These songs are reflective of waking up from being spiritually asleep,” Brown says thoughtfully. “When I play these songs live, they’re emotionally charged for me, and that’s what makes them genuine.”
Discover Ted Brown’s music at www.tedbrownsongs.com.