“For me, music is therapy,” Amanda Brown says. “It’s cathartic to be able to feel a certain way, and sit down and put it in a song. Then, it’s like, okay. I can let go of this. I don’t have to carry it because the song is carrying it for me.”
Thoughtful and subversive, Brown has a way of taking the familiar––for example, music as therapy––and recasting it to deliver an original, more robust understanding: Songs can carry our burdens so that while we never forget, we aren’t immobilized by the weight of our experiences.
Brown’s appreciation for the liberating power of a song has deepened over years of study, and her highly anticipated debut album Dirty Water benefits from her willingness to let things marinate. Bursting with both swagger and tenderness, the record is a triumphant collection of Brown’s risk-taking, pop-savvy, finely honed rock-and-roll. “Strong reactions are what I want from people––it’s not a lighthearted album,” she says. “I want people to listen to the music and really love it or really hate it. That’s what I want.”
She continues “as cliche as it may sound, this record has been a real labor of love. I’ve been working on it for the past three years but I’ve been working up to it since I decided to pursue a career in music. Now that it’s finished I feel a massive release, a release of the tension, sadness, joy and love that I’ve been carrying around for the past three years, waiting to share with the world.
Amanda wrote or co-wrote every song on the album — ultimately, all of the songs on Dirty Water brim with courage–and hard-won virtuosity. Just two primary collaborators composed with her: singer-songwriters Greg Tannen and Colin Smith.
Other album standouts include “Dirty Water,” which capitalizes on what she does best: vocals that move seamlessly between awe-inspiring roars and haunting nuances. The song is intimate and quiet–a stark window into the overwhelming but mysterious anguish we all have but don’t discuss. Moody love song “So Right” is tinged with that self-aware melancholy Brown can’t–and doesn’t want to–shake. She penned “Glutton for Punishment”–a personal favorite–alone one day in about two hours, sitting on a rock by the water not far from the home she shares with her boyfriend in New York City. Angry and vulnerable, the song soars thanks to a surprising combination of Brown’s soul laid bare and bold vocal effects. Goading heart-pounder “Take Your Pill” accomplishes the all-too-rare feat of mixing rock-and-roll escapism with tough questions. Brown wrote the song during a time in her life when she was going hard and fast all of the time.