Depending on who you’re talking to, success can be defined different ways. For some, it might mean an extra-large house while for others, it might mean having the latest in technology.
For Canadian country music star Dean Brody, it means being able to enjoy the Christmas holidays without needing to worry about being away from home.
Pretty modest expectations, wouldn’t you say?
“The holidays were great,” Dean says from his home in Nova Scotia. “It was nice being able to just chill out for a while. It was probably the first time in six years or more that I have had four weeks off around the holidays. To be able to look back and see how all of the years of hard work paid off was incredibly gratifying.”
Things were not always so easy for Dean, however. Early in his career, he landed a publishing deal, relocated to Nashville from his B.C. home and began pitching his songs for others to sing. A recording contract soon followed.
Even though his recorded debut effort managed to come impressively close to cracking the Top 30 albums south of the border, he and his record company were soon at odds with each other.
After being released from his American recording contract, Dean and his family settled on Nova Scotia’s South Shore, where the singer-songwriter gathered his bearings and set about relaunching his career.
His decision to sign with Canadian country music label Open Road Recordings would help bolster his stock here at home. Dean’s debut album for the label, Trail In Life, delivered four Top 10 singles, three Canadian Country Music Association Awards as well as a Juno Nomination for Country Album of the Year. By the end of 2011, he was the most played Canadian country music artist on Canadian radio.
2012 was equally kind to the singer.His third record, Dirt, debuted in the No. 1 position on the Canadian country music charts while also giving Dean no fewer than five Top 10 singles. The record also nabbed Dean the Album of the Year Award at the Canadian Country Music Association Awards.
This past November, Dean released his fourth studio record, Crop Circles.
Asked if he was feeling any pressure while making the album given the success of his previous records, Dean says that he did wonder to himself if this would be the record on which his good fortune ran out.
“In terms of records, I’m four deep now. There was definitely some added pressure, wondering if this would be the time that the well would go dry or that people would stop being excited by the music I was writing. Whether the pressure was real or I only put it on myself, it was definitely there throughout the process.”
With only 18 months between Dirt and Crop Circles, the time to write new material was not quite as plentiful as Dean would have liked.
Unlike many contemporary country artists, who rely on outside songwriters to pen their hits, Dean writes his own songs.
“For me, writing my own music is essential,” he says. “I don’t have a lot of co-writing experience and so I really grew into writing by myself and really loving it. In the past where I have tried pairing up with other writers, I found that those experiences would shut me down creatively. Sitting in a room with two or three other guys and being forced to come out of the room with a song just wasn’t the right fit for me.”
When you reach a certain level of success in Canada, as Dean has, how often you can play without saturating yourself becomes a delicate balancing act. While it is important to maintain a profile to keep your name on people’s minds, there are only so many Canadian towns and cities to play. This has led many acts to look outside the country to keep themselves busy.
While admitting he appreciates having the occasional opportunity to play in the United States or across the pond in Europe or even Australia, Dean is more than happy to hang his hat within Canadian borders for the time being.
“I like taking on shows in Europe and Australia because I love getting out with the guys from the band and making music with them. I’m not that set on necessarily ‘making it’ outside of Canada though. There is a competitive side to me that would love to work more outside of Canada but then I have to consider the impact that the decision would have upon my family. I live to play music but am very comfortable right now in terms of my family being happy as well as myself being happy.”
What: Dean Brody
with special guest Cassadee Pope
When: Friday Jan. 31, 8 p.m.
Where: Casino New Brunswick, 21 Casino Dr., Moncton
Article published in the January 27, 2014 edition of the Times & Transcript