With the help of engineer/co-producer Marc Benning and noted players like Leftover Salmon’s Erik Deutsch and sax player Dwight Bement (Frank Zappa), listeners get to know Borgo through his vivid songwriting and instrumentation inspired by Motown, blues, and rich rock n’ roll. Nothing catch this better more than his new single “Stay The Night.”
In the words of Borgo:
“‘Stay The Night’ is the sexy, Bowie-esque dance groove on Be Kind. It’s a bit of an outlier from the rest of the tracks on the album but still fits in with its soulful vocal. ‘You should stay the night, where you gotta run to always in the middle of the night? It just ain’t right,’ is the repeating line in the song. Lyrically, that is more or less it! The song was built around the drum and bass groove, and the keyboard riff between versus. I didn’t spend much time on the lyrics, the phrasing of the words fit the music and the story began to tell itself.
When I lost the ability to play any instruments due to neuro-muscular degeneration, I had to find a way to compose songs! Once I get a lyric and melody in my head, I can record it onto my computer, and then punch some midi notes in and assign them to an instrument to accompany the lyric. I usually start with a bass line and then add drums and piano. Sometimes I start with the bass and drums if I have a bass line in my head, and then I go back and add lyrics to that. I get the songs pretty produced, adding vocal harmonies, horn parts, and whatever else I hear for the song. These are the demos that guide the studio sessions with live musicians. Having the songs mapped out like this made for some very efficient recording sessions.
The main phrases or ‘hooks’, if you will, were composed but the rest of what you hear is the players doing their own thing on the song. When you have such great players as Erik [Deutsch] and Dan [Schwindt] improvising parts, it really brings the production level up! Marc took some extra time with the bass and came up with great parts that really support what Erik and Dan played, and Carl drums with such a nice feel, I couldn’t be happier with how the rhythm and groove turned out! With help from Dwight [Bement], all of the horn parts where written and arranged prior to the sessions. I got together several times with Kim [Dawson] and ran through some harmony ideas for the songs so when her and Tanya [Shylock] came into the studio we pretty much knew what we were going to do. All of this made mixing pretty easy, and producer Marc Benning did a great job with that!”
Last year, Denver-based Brian Bourgault traveled to Hideaway Studios, a residential recording retreat near Colorado Springs. With the help of engineer, co-producer, and bass player Marc Benning, Brian recorded what would become Be Kind, his highly-anticipated debut album under the moniker Borgo.
Before he was Borgo, Brian Bourgault was going about the business of his daily life as a music store owner and guitar player when his body suddenly stopped making a routine connection. A year later, at age 33, he was diagnosed with an untreatable, progressive neurological disease. That was 2005. Now, over a decade later, he has reunited with a renewed determination to see that his passion of making music is a day-to-day reality.
Be Kind tells stories of love lost, breaking societal norms, and reflecting on life through jazz piano ballads and funk-infused guitar. The album features notable musicians like renowned keys player Erik Deutsch (Leftover Salmon), acclaimed guitarist Dan Schwindt (Kyle Hollingsworth Band), Denver’s most sought after drummer, Carl Sorensen (Dragondeer, Chimney Choir, In Planes), sax legend Dwight Bement (Frank Zappa’s Blackouts), and trumpet player Chris Lawson. With Borgo singing lead vocals, Kim Dawson (The Pimps of Joytime) and Tanya Shylock (formerly with The Motet) provide backing vocals.
Together, they recorded 12 tracks within three days, all original compositions Brian had created over the years. With the help of some songwriting software and his computer, he created midi notes and gave new life to the songs, drawing inspiration from country, blues, soul, and Motown. With Benning’s help, those midi notes became Be Kind, a well-written, soulful, and honest compilation that meets at the juncture of many different genres, yet is uniquely its own.
The album not only confronts Borgo’s unique adversities, but problems we can all relate to; being vulnerable, the fear of being rejected, only being as good as your limitations, and loss. This can be heard specifically in the song, “Stay Up” which he wrote when his father was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer.
But while most of the album’s lyrics are hard-hitters, it all comes together in the title track, which Borgo says is his personal message to the world, “Above all else, above all of the shit, be kind.”