The album opens with “Lift-Off,” which – after a brief countdown sound snippet from NASA – begins as a dance number. It has a positive and bright sound, and there are some unexpected changes here, creating a more interesting mood. Plus, the work on keys at times seems to fly, moving along at a good clip in an excited, joyous and almost carefree manner. Then we dip back into a more introspective section, before returning to that dance feel at the end. That’s followed by “Bragging Rights,” the album’s title track, which sort of works in the opposite way, beginning in a pretty place, a mellower spot, then bursting open with a delicious power. Nothing shy about the attitude there. This track goes back and forth between these two distinct locations and vibes. Steve Herrman joins Brian Kinler on trumpet and flugelhorn on this track, adding some absolutely gorgeous work in those quieter sections, and then cutting loose in the more boisterous sections, especially toward the end. I love the different moods he captures. Andre Mayeux did the horn arrangement for this track.
“Six Thousand Days” has a pretty and uplifting and romantic sound and style. There is a peaceful and comforting aspect to this track, even after it kicks in. This is a song that celebrates our most important relationships, the relationships that will carry us through whatever troubles may arise. Certainly this is exactly the sort of thing we are looking for and needing these days, particularly when we are distanced from others. The power of this song feels like the strength of the loves in our lives. Brian and his husband Steven took a trip to Vietnam last year, and this trip has clearly had an impact, heard in the composition of “Indochine,” and seen in the new music video for this song documenting some of that experience. This track has a steady dance beat, and is one you can definitely move to, but there is more going on here. There is a curiosity about the unknown and the foreign, as well as a joy in the discovery of special places. That’s followed by “Waiting For Her,” which has a more somber tone, and is incredibly moving. This is a song a lot of us first heard at Brian Kinler’s performance at Vitello’s last August, and it was probably the most beautiful moment of the show. This is an absolutely gorgeous piece of music. It develops a magical quality, like the ethereal touching the worldly. This is one of my favorite tracks.
“Gutterball” is pure fun, a dance song with a strong groove to raise our spirits and get our asses shaking. There is a joy to the playing, and it’s almost like the piano itself is smiling. And hey, does anyone else find that bowling is one thing you somehow get better at the more inebriated you are? Brian then slows things down again with “Suffocate,” a beautifully sad and touching piece. But when it might seem that hope is lost, the song kicks in with a renewed energy and power, like a hand reaching out to lift you up or to hold away the darkness. That is followed by “Me And Stevie P,” another one he introduced to folks at Vitello’s last August. There is a great happiness to this track. It is a love song that feels like that joy and lift you get just from seeing your partner nearby, when you feel that the whole world is a great place just because your sweet one is in it.
“The Honourable Mrs. Graham” is another beautiful track, a piece you can immerse yourself in. There is a sense of something approaching awe here at moments, and other times a complete understanding, a strong connection. This track features a string section written and performed by Andre Mayeux. Andre Mayeux likewise composed the string arrangement for the album’s final track, “The Heavens,” which is also beautiful. This song feels like a release as it begins, a letting go, and then a celebration of life as it goes on, a celebration of existence and the crazy miracle that any of us are here at all.
CD Track List
- Bragging Rights
- Six Thousand Days
- Waiting For Her
- Me And Stevie P
- The Honourable Mrs. Graham
- The Heavens
Bragging Rights was released on March 24, 2020.