In the midst of everything, the optimistic Nashville-based singer-songwriter finds hope and wants this song to make you smile and feel loved.
By way of introduction, Shannon LaBrie describes herself as a singer-songwriter who plays guitar and piano. She’s from a farm in Nebraska, where she grew up listening to James Taylor and Lauryn Hill; now she lives in Nashville. The music she makes might be called — her words — “deep Americana soul” — and she’s a “major sliver-linings chaser” who loves the optimistic outlook on life.
“I grew up playing guitar because of my dad,” LaBrie says. “He taught me the basics of songwriting before he passed away and also picked out my very first guitar for me, a black Takamine.”
Besides music, LaBrie also loves a good cigar, art from Goodwill, and feathers. She’s obsessed, she says, with feathers.
“My co-writer Tia Sillers has shared her love of feathers with me over the past couple of years,” LaBrie says. “Every time I see one now, I take it as a tiny sign that I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be.”
That sentiment is laced throughout the new lyric video for the song “Angels Fall.”
“I'm passing along the mystifying magic of feathers to anyone else who needs a little sign today,” she says.
We talked with LaBrie about the song and the collection of songs on her forthcoming new album that have transformed her life for the better.
Cowboys & Indians: Tell us about “Angels Fall.”
Shannon LaBrie: I was in a co-write one evening, and everything was going great. We had written three songs already, and as I got up to leave, we started talking about the people in our lives that push us to better things — those much-needed moments when the people here or the people that have passed on dip down into our lives and guide us. A few lyrics spilled out, and we both knew it was a song we had to finish.
C&I: Who wrote it and what were the circumstances?
LaBrie: I wrote this song with an old friend here in Nashville, named John Cox, at his house on the river. We both have lost people in our lives that we love and have both had those “angel” experiences, and I think at the moment, we both felt the need to share that. Fun fact: I recorded my very first music video ever, “I Remember a Boy,” at the house we started this song — kind of a fun full-circle moment.
C&I: Tell us about your forthcoming album, Building.
LaBrie: I couldn’t be prouder of this album. It’s a bundle of songs written from a spirit of resilience and hope. I think while writing this album, I was writing songs I wanted to be true for m and my life, and, magically, these songs have transformed my life for the better. Music has a way of doing that.
C&I: Give us the 411 on the song “Angels Fall.”
LaBrie: We recorded this song at Blueroom Studio's in Berry Hill, Tennessee (a very special nook of studios outside of Nashville). Brent Maher and Charles Yingling produced the album, which was the best recording experience of my life. Nir Z played drums, Ryan Madora played bass, and Joe Robinson played lead guitar. We all huddled in the studio in a circle and played the album live to tape. For me, it was the safest vulnerable state I’ve ever had in the studio, and I’ll treasure it forever. Getting to work with Brent and Charles and the players was such an honor — a once-in-a-lifetime moment.
C&I: Any good stories about creating and producing it?
LaBrie: One of the cool things about “Angels Fall” is that I originally wrote the song on the piano. It had a very different feel from what we ended up recording in the studio. Joe Robinson (lead guitar and band leader and guitar virtuoso) and I were working with Charles Yingling in preproduction and kept feeling like the piano wasn’t sitting right. It was almost taking up too much space. That’s when I looked at Joe and said, “You wanna try this on guitar?” Once he started playing, Charles and I looked at each other with big eyes, jaws open, and excitedly knew that we had to have Joe play it. He’s such a talent and gift. It’s crazy how a song can transform from conception to the actual recording.
C&I: What meaning do the song and album hold for you?
LaBrie: I wrote most of this album with Tia Sillers last year, and I think this album holds so much hope for the future for both of us. I hope that tomorrow can be transformed, that we can walk through the fire and come out the other side stronger; that amid the storm, we can know that the sun will shine again, and no matter what, there’s so much room for gratitude.
C&I: What would you like listeners to get from the new music?
LaBrie: I hope that listeners will hear this album and smile. I hope they feel strong, optimistic, and loved — and not alone. Because that’s the truth: We are surrounded by so many things, near and far, whether they are our family at home, our friends on a phone call, or angels swooping in (or falling down) from above to remind us not to lose hope and that there are better things ahead!
C&I: What's next for you, post-pandemic?
LaBrie: Hopefully, as the world starts to open up, a lot of live shows. But for now, I’m holding my hands open to whatever I can do to keep the arts thriving and support my local community. As a result of not touring, Moraine Music Group and I started a project called The Building Project, where we go into local businesses and spotlight how they’ve been making a comeback and rebuilding after the tornado [that hit in early March] throughout the pandemic. It's been inspiring to talk with the great people of Nashville and see how they are thriving in the midst of 2020. You can see our first episode on The Building Project tab on my website.
Shannon LaBrie’s Feel Good Playlist
“I Say a Little Prayer” — Aretha Franklin
“Change Is Gonna Come” — Aretha Franklin version
“You’ve Got a Friend” — James Taylor
“Something in the Way She Moves” — James Taylor
“Here You Come Again” — Dolly Parton
Any song by Al Green, but let’s say “Love and Happiness” and “Sha-La-La (Make Me Happy)”
“Too Much” — Kyshona Armstrong
Any song by Bill Withers, but let’s go with “Lovely Day” and “Lean on Me”
“Tell Him” — Lauryn Hill
“I Hope You Dance” — Lee Ann Womack
“Funeral for My Past” — Liz Longley
“Bittersweet” — Lianne La Havas
“Get Out and Get It” — Devon Gilfillian