With a sound reminiscent of 90s country artists Garth Brooks, Johnny Cash & Jason Isbel, paired with dark stories told through captivating, thought-provoking lyrics, acoustic singer/songwriter David Bradford brings a fresh twist to contemporary country music.
Colorado-born and spending most of his time there and in Texas, acoustic singer/songwriter David Bradford was always surrounded by country music. As he mentions, ”Country always felt really familiar to me. I felt like lyrically, melodically, it’s the pinnacle of music. You don’t see that same calibre in other areas of music.” (Bradford). He decided to pick up the guitar at 13 years old. He experimented with various genres, including Metal, before finding his home in country music. In his early 20s, his career as an artist-led him to Calgary, Alberta. “In 2016, David enlisted Juno Award Winning producer Russell Broom, to produce David’s first EP “(Cry in Your Sleep)”, recorded in Calgary at Broom Closet Studios. In 2018 David recorded a Country EP with Russell Broom entitled “It’s Okay.” The single from that EP “It’s Okay” has gone on to be nominated for the YYCMA Country Recording of the year category; as well as receiving an “Honourable Mention” in the Unsigned Only global songwriting competition based out of Nashville. This song was selected out of 6,000 worldwide submissions.” (Bradford). In 2020, he released his single “It Ain’t Right” (Also produced by Russell Broom), followed by his single “Death Valley” in early 2021.
“It Ain’t Right” speaks to someone who doesn’t know how to function in society anymore, so he turns to alcohol and self-harm in order to cope. He’s been with his wife for a decade, but his ongoing path to self-destruction left her with no choice but to leave him. He then realizes he’s the problem and believes the world would be better off without him, and attempts to take his life. Melodically, the song has a slower tempo and is stripped back, highlighting the acoustic guitar. This light, brighter sound provides a poetic, vivid contrast between the heavy lyrics. Overall, it’s a beautiful song that will make you want to take a moment to reflect on your own life choices. For those who struggle with PTSD, alcoholism or self-harm or know a loved one who does, the song may serve as a reminder that they are not alone. Something Bradford intended, as he explains, “ I’m from the States so I grew up in around vets with severe trauma. I’ve seen the collateral damage and impact it has on those around you.” (Bradford). As he continues, “You want to feel healing in the songs you listen to. I’ve personally dealt with alcoholism in my family, so there’s some tough stuff that is carried over into the song– even if it’s not an entire direct reflection of my experiences.” (Bradford).
In February, David also released his thematically-rich single, Death Valley. The song speaks to someone who feels complacent and stuck in his small town. They also feel a growing void within themselves, despite all they have– a sad reality they must face as the consequence for choosing to follow the path society lay before them instead of following their heart. Which serves as a warning message to listeners. As Bradford states, “Death Valley is a cautionary tale. A sign that reads “Wrong Way”. How many need to go down this vapid trail before we awaken to a new and rewarding path?” (Bradford). Melodically, the song boasts a bright, acoustic tone that transports you directly to the barren lands of “Death Valley”.
Also a prominent songwriter, “he has worked with Emmy award-winning producer Jamie Houston from Nashville and co-wrote the song “Make it to the Diamond” also produced by Russell Broom. A song that has been selected for Spotify’s “Down Home Country” playlist. A playlist that spotlights new and popular country songs.” (Bradford). In addition, he’s written over 700 songs to date and writes a new song each day–an impressive feat. “It’s one of those things where you have to wake up and be honest. Don’t force it, or else you can tell. Don’t put yourself under pressure, be freer. Don’t be afraid to challenge the rules of songwriting.” As for his songwriting process, that changes between songs. As he mentions, “I like to dabble with different approaches and tactics. Never put yourself in a box. If you are having a tough time doing something, approach it differently. Sometimes I start with a melody, chord progressions or lyrics. Whichever is free-flowing at the moment I’m writing.” (Bradford). The same goes for the meaning of the songs he writes. As he explains, “I don’t really understand the meaning of the song until it’s done and I’m a few listens in.” (Bradford). Despite that, all his songs are drawn from life experiences and that of others. And contain many layers the listener can unpack.
Giving advice to new songwriters, Bradford suggests to sit down and really spend some time with your favourite songs and listen to the chord progressions. listen to new songs and watch TV shows to find inspiration for song titles and lyrical hooks. And this is exactly how Bradford came up with the concept for his song, “The Habit of Living”. As he recalls, “ I’m a big fan of Yellowstone–love it. There’s a character in it, Rip (Cole Houser). In one scene, he’s threatening a mortuary worker. And he says to this guy. “You aren’t really scared of dying, you’re scared you’ll lose the habit of living.”. That specific line inspired the whole song.” (Bradford).
Moving forward in 2021, Bradford has his sights on landing some sync placements for his music in film & TV, As he mentions, “My goal is to get some sync placements. I got some things in the oven. But time will tell. It’s a bit like playing the lottery, you have to keep throwing darts at the board and hope one sticks.” (Bradford). he also plans on releasing new music, both across streaming platforms and on his preferred social platform, Instagram.
Bradford, David. Interview. Conducted by Kyla Pearson, Jan. 28th, 2021.
Bradford, David. “Death Valley is rich in layers”. Instagram, Feb. 16, 2021. https://www.instagram.com/p/CLXN2XTBgvm/
Unknown. “Featured: Acoustic singer/songwriter David Bradford”. Photo courtesy of David Bradford. Accessed Jan. 28th, 2021.
Bence Horvai. “Official cover art for David Bradford’s single, “It Ain’t Right”. Photo courtesy of David Bradford. Accessed Jan. 28th, 2021.
Unknown. “Official cover art for David Bradford’s single, “Death Valley”. Photo courtesy of David Bradford. Accessed Jan. 28th, 2021.