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Arts & Culture

Brett Harris Bares More Of His Soul On 'Up In The Air'

Image of Brett Harris
Jeremy M. Lange
/
Brett Harris

Durham-based singer and songwriter Brett Harris could have played nearly every instrument on his new solo album, Up In The Air. Instead, he gathered friends in the music community to bring his songs to life.

Harris is a touring member of the dB's and a core member of the band that brought the iconic Big Star's Third to the stage over the past two years.

Harris said he typically doesn’t include many autobiographical details in his songs. He broke his own principle for the song “Lies” as he sings of “the unintended consequence of bitter pills I’ve had to swallow.”

But he still won’t get too specific about his own life.

“There’s certain things about it that are true about my life and my experience,” Harris said. “But it touches on points here and there, and the rest is up to interpretation.”

He’s quick to point out that there’s a difference between an autobiographical song and a song that’s not real or honest.

“It always has to come from a personal place,” Harris said. “I also like to pull back and see the scene from other points of view. That way I feel like other people can associate their place in life or current circumstance or feeling in the context of that song.”

Another aspect to this album is the nods to other bands and other musical references, particularly the Beatles.

“It’s been fun to learn how to not shy away from it or how to incorporate it in a way you can still say is yours at the end of the day,” Harris said. “Learning to let that be a natural part of who I am led to those songs coming out in bits and pieces throughout the record.”

Harris has had a lot of experiences in his musical career, perhaps none more formative than playing in the Big Star’s Third concerts. He said it provided him immense educational opportunities and the chance to perform on big stages with big crowds and work with big-time musicians.

“To be able to work with them and collaborate and to in a way almost feel like you can hold your own, it left me with a sense of surety,” Harris said. “As one of my colleagues has said, it allowed us to think bigger than maybe our own individual career paths had been up until that point.”

Harris compared the experience to attending graduate school and said sharing the stage with Ray Davies from the Kinks is the memory that sticks out to him. 

Up In The Air is Harris' follow-up to last year's Mr. Sunshine EP. He'll be playing the new songs at the Cat's Cradle Back Room at 7:30 p.m. on Friday.

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