“Well, I went up to the city to find myself, and didn’t find a thing at all/ except for a couple new ways to forget what I was lookin’ for… but gimme a compass needle, some honest people, and a place that I can stay/I can find my own way home.”
Thus begins Kirby Brown’s Uncommon Prayer, a ten-song soliloquy of loneliness and longing, underpinned with a fundamental belief that there is always a home to be found. From being raised in a small, picturesque farm town, to years spent roaming the charged, gritty sidewalks of New York City, Brown has made his home in the extremes of American culture. However, it is his own experiences of personal loss and subsequent growth — in combination with these varied backdrops — that inspire his constant search for perspective.
Brown’s life took a sharp turn in his late teens. Shortly after high school, both his first love and his long time best friend died tragically and unexpectedly in the space of a year, and it was feelings of immense loss and brokenness that initially inspired him to record an album. Rather than attend university as he had previously planned, Brown found himself floating around the Dallas area, working for his friend’s band and trying to regain his sense of what life was supposed to be. Out of sheer emotional necessity he began to write and record what eventually became his first album, Child of Calamity. When a gig brought him to New York City, Brown unexpectedly fell in love with the place.
Joined by fellow Dallas musicians and frequent collaborators The Texas Gentleman and producer Beau Bedford, Brown sounds completely at home on Uncommon Prayer, which was recorded at the legendary FAME studios in Muscle Shoals. His conversational phrasing and plaintive vocals lead the listener through the winding hills of the Ozarks, the muggy heat of Texas, and the crowded streets of New York City with ease. Despite his literary bent, the songs are upbeat and go down easily, with clear pop melodic sensibilities complementing the evocative lyrical twists and turns. His hopeful tone leaves the listener feeling both understood and inspired to “keep on keeping on,” and to embrace the pain and loneliness that we all inevitably come upon. Throughout the album Brown conveys to his listeners that no matter where they are on their own journey through brokenness and growth, there is always beauty, truth, and a sense of meaning to be found. As he says in “Broken Bell”: “anyway you come is plenty enough for you to feel at home — until you move along.”