We’ve been “friends on Facebook” for the past few years, but we’d never met in person until a few months ago. We were invited to a mutual friend’s house with several other female musicians. Abby’s aura is warm and inviting. Everyone’s taller than me, but she’s a good bit taller. She bent down to keep me from having to stretch up for a lovely-to-meet-you-in-person hug, and a gesture like this is not lost on me.
Post release of Abby Bryant and the Echoes’ 13 track debut, Not Your Little Girl, she called me from the road for our interview. We began our conversation before a show they had that evening and she’s excited, blessed and grateful for the large audiences they’ve been attracting.
My aim for this feature is to skip the incidentals. You can read her bio on her website. What I want to do is dig into each of the tracks on NYLG, giving my reaction to each one, and getting her responses to share with you. Abby agrees and clears us for take-off.
The debut album is heavy emotionally, but throughout there’s hope, joy and liberation. “Challenges expressed in an inspiring way” is how she summarizes the crux of the record.
Track: Not Your Little Girl
P: This feels like a celebratory liberation song; especially when the horns kick in.
A: I wrote this song as I was first navigating the music industry. Especially because I’m young, I often hear conflicting voices spouting every type of opinion. I liberate myself from the opinions of others as best I can. This song is me finding my own voice in there. The horns especially express the positive take I’m going for just the same.
P: Confronting the conundrum of breaking up and how taking the high road is a good strategy when faced with questions from friends about the reasons why.
A: Of the different facets of breaking up, the social piece of the break up is hard. When someone can’t control what you do or say anymore, they’ll respond to that by trying to control how other people see you. While that can be hurtful, time will reveal the truth as long as you stand there with integrity.
Track: Better Now
P: Now you’re feeling trust again.
A: It’s about a mix of core people in my life. Allowing myself to trust means I allow myself to thrive. It’s also about my business partnership and longstanding friendship with Baily Faulkner (her co-founding friend, co-writing partner and lead guitarist).
Track: When I’m Gone
P: I’m inspired to call this an “exit” anthem. That trying to hold you back in any situation, only makes you want to break free. Here’s another example of you taking the high road with someone who’s been oblivious to accountability. While listening to this, I actually pictured you throwing open the storm door of your house, sauntering down the steps and onto a side walk, and as you stroll you begin boogying to the beat of your own song.
A: What you’ve imagined is right on with what I was intending with this song. But I also hope people take what they’re hearing and imagine what they will, cause I’m okay with any interpretation.
Track: Had To
P: Being you, doing you is not a slap in the face to anyone. Sometimes you have to make decisions based on the natural next step in your life.
A: That’s very true. It’s about making tough choices and sitting in your own resolve about what you need to do in your own life, in your own career. But it’s also about the pain that comes in the aftermath of changing something that wasn’t working.
Track: Hold Me
P: It’s such a fine, melancholy groove. “That you’ll long for me, way after I’m gone” from the chorus struck me. That use of the word “way” really sticks with me. The vocal improvisation at the end too, was super compelling.
A: We spent a long time on that ending with the backing vocals and it’s a special moment on the album. It’s about deeply connecting with someone even though circumstance and lifestyle can’t sustain it. It’s a song of longing and hoping I stay on that person’s mind.
Track: Roll with Me
P: The first time I ever heard your band was from a YouTube video, and you’re performing this one live on the ‘Floyd Fest Bus Stop.’ I thought what an appropriate tune to choose to do on the bus!
A: (Laughing) I get happy just thinking about that bus stop recording session! We had just played to one of our biggest crowds when they invited us to play on the bus. We ended up winning the “artist on the rise” prize that year. It was a really big day for us; even more then I realized at the time.
Track: Love Crush Blues
P: I hear a double meaning on this one. It’s a revelation every bit as much as it’s an accusatory lament.
A: It’s a song that describes a sort of pre-teen, preconceived notion that I was going to one day be magically swept away by love and romance. And I come to realize that that doesn’t necessarily happen for everyone. “If I want love, I can only love myself” is the bottom line.
The Last 3 Tracks
A: *Keep Moving is about our resilience and our determination as a band. *Time Wasn’t on Our Side is the most personal and vulnerable track. It’s a mournful acceptance of when things don’t align.
*I’m Telling You has a jubilant groove. It contrasts the struggle with its joyful sound. It mirrors my personality. There’s a lot going on in my mind and there’s always a lot I could complain about but I’m also pretty good at laughing things off cause riding the highs and lows of this business is so crazy and it’s so easy to get caught up in that rollercoaster ride. It’s a tough skill to master, but the middle ground for me is laughing with my bandmates.
Visit her website for tour dates and links to streaming platforms and to pre order the album: abbybryantandtheechoes.com
Peggy Ratusz is a vocal coach, song interpreter, and songwriter.
For vocal coaching email her at firstname.lastname@example.org