Iconic singer, songwriter, guitarist, and Alice In Chains co-founder Jerry Cantrell releases his long awaited and highly anticipated album Brighten.
Jerry was already working on Brighten prior to his pair of sold out Los Angeles shows in December 2019, but it was at these shows where Jerry met an eclectic group of new musicians who joined the cast of Brighten.
“Tyler Bates not only introduced me to a lot of cool players, he also helped me put the band together for those shows, and performed with me. It was fun to play tunes I hadn’t played in years from ‘Boggy Depot’ and ‘Degradation Trip’.” Shortly after, Jerry entered the studio to begin recording Brighten, co-produced with film composer Tyler Bates [300, John Wick], and Paul Fig (long-time Engineer) they welcomed a dynamic cast of supporting players including, Duff McKagan [Guns N’ Roses, Loaded] on select bass tracks, Greg Puciato [Dillinger Escape Plan] contributing to backing vocals and drummers Gil Sharone and Abe Laboriel, Jr. (Paul McCartney) and Joe Barresi [Tool, Queens of the Stone Age] handled the mixing of Brighten. Additional musicians on the album include; pedal steel master Michael Rozon; Vincent Jones on piano, Wurlitzer, and organ; Jordan Lewis on piano; Matias Ambrogi-Terres on strings; and Lola Bates on select additional backing vocals.
Jerry says, “It was like an old school seventies record where a multitude of musicians played. So it’s not a set band. I got to make music with a bunch of people I never had before, along with friends like Duff & Tyler & Gil who I’ve worked with previously.”
“This record offers cleaner glimpses of what I grew up on, listened to, and am still inspired by today” he states. “I was raised by two country fans, so I think you can hear that energy in there as well. This album has prominent roles for keys, strings, and pedal steel, which I haven’t incorporated in such a heavy fashion before.”
The riff in the first track , ‘Atone’ introduces the LP and rolls like a runaway freight train underscored by cinematic twang. As the momentum builds, Jerry intones the hummable hook before a psychedelic break. The epic ‘Siren Song’ conjures imagery of “an individual in an inhospitable environment recalling a memory of a love that’s nourishing. Even though they may never touch, see, or meet again, the memory keeps the loner going.”
‘Had To Know,’ features driving guitars and Jerry’s patented harmonized vocals, and the added element of organ, reminiscent of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers’ Benmont Tench on ‘Refugee’.
“I have a certain style and a way of going about things,” he admits. “There’s plenty of darkness and edge, but there’s also some light, space, and good vibes. Pretty early on, I knew ‘Brighten’ was the cornerstone track of the album, and it seemed to fit the body of work as a title.”
Fittingly, Jerry pays homage to one of his favourite artists Sir Elton John with a cover of ‘Goodbye’ to conclude the album.
“’Madman Across The Water’ is one of my favourite records of all time,” he exclaims. “Out of respect to Elton, I wouldn’t include it unless he said it was okay. He’d played piano on ‘Black Gives Way To Blue,’ which I wrote for Layne, so I reached out to Elton, he listened to it, and told me “You should absolutely use it.” I got the signoff by the man himself. I couldn’t think of a better way to close the record!”
Ultimately, these tunes are a worthy addition to Jerry’s repertoire and the larger American rock ‘n’ roll songbook.
“At the end of the day, I can walk away knowing I completed the journey that I started with a group of friends who were all committed to the same goal,” he leaves off. “I never know where the fuck I’m going when we start. I just want to take the trip. I’m satisfied I did the best I could and created something that didn’t exist before—another really quality chapter in a growing book I’ve been working on for 30-plus years. I feel like it’s a real rock ‘n’ roll record.”
“I’m grateful people on this planet care about that, the music hits them, and they’re able to make it their own. Now, it belongs to everybody.”
Catch Jerry Cantrell on tour
As 2022 approaches, Jerry is preparing for a tour of the US that will bring him to cities such as New York, LA, Chicago, Boston, Nashville and Vegas among many other cities. See all tour dates HERE.
Jerry Cantrell Brighten out now.
Prism of Doubt
Black Hearts and Evil Done
Had To Know
Nobody Breaks You
The Cast of Players on Brighten
Jerry Cantrell – Guitar, bass, vocals, keys
Greg Puciato – Background vocals
Duff McKagan – Bass
Gil Sharone – Drums
Abe Laboriel Jr. – Drums
Tyler Bates – Strings, percussion, guitar
Vincent Jones – Piano, keys, & strings
Jordan Lewis – Piano
Michael Rozon – Pedal steel
Lola Bates – Background vocals
Matias Ambrogi-Torres – Strings
Check out even more from Jerry Cantrell.