Music, like fashion, food and a bevy of other cultural landscapes, continually waffles between nostalgia and innovation, cycling through one reinvention to the next.
Brooke Waggoner’s inherent grasp and commitment to her sound, seems decidedly unconventional considering these patterns of trend. “I found my sound at a pretty young age,” says the songwriter, composer and performer. That sound, explored and refined in her latest album, SWEVEN, draws the notes between her past and present and doesn’t hesitate to mine an unusual source – herself. Brooke found herself revisiting her earliest work, captured in a pre-YouTube phase of life, that she had recorded throughout her childhood. “My mom is a big memorabilia person and really pushed me to record everything on cassette tapes at the time. I have every lyric I’ve written since age nine.”
Brooke ended up producing the album, and handpicking a close knit group of friends and family to play. The deadline was self-imposed. “My only goal was to finish it before my son was born. It came down literally to the day. I tracked my last set of vocals the afternoon before his arrival.”
The album, released January 2016, builds upon her previous work to tackle a more direct conversation about aging — in her words, “the beauty that lies within every notch on your belt, the good ones and the bad ones.” Its subject matter reveals a maturing artist and musician, and an evolving outlook brewing since the release of her freshman EP, “Fresh Pair of Eyes,” which was heralded as “[O]ne of the most exciting releases to come out of America in 2007” by the London Sunday Times when it debuted on the Nashville scene. Her next release, “Heal For The Honey” plumbed the depths of heartbreak and repair with a jaunty, 70’s-esque pop lightness. With “Go Easy Little Doves,” released in 2009, the flemished featured musician took a turn for the pastoral with lush, unbridled instrumentals. It later debuted as number one on the iTunes Singer/Songwriter charts. “Originator,” promoted in 2013 and dubbed “[A] bold step forward” by Entertainment Weekly, led to gigs at Austin City Limits Fest and Lollapalooza.
In the midst of collaborating with and writing for Nashville-based musicians and orchestras, Brooke took time off in 2011 and 2012 to record and tour with Jack White. Licensing deals with prominent TV shows emerged as well, building a credible showcase of Brooke’s artistry and songwriting abilities. For the musician herself though, she is happiest when writing and poring over the keys of her piano. “Writing is thrilling for me. And wherever you are putting your time, there you will see the fruits of your labor,” Brooke says, “Or so I’m hoping.”
— written by Rachel Jones