There’s a special place for the Kootenays in “Right Round Here,” Dean Brody’s latest record.
The Canadian Country superstar, who grew up in Jaffray, just east of Cranbrook B.C., released his eight album last month, and istaking it on the road. “Right Round Here” is a tribute to the Canada that Brody knows so well, having lived and toured over so much of it. Its eight songs are a portrait and celebration of Canadian life. “Where’d You Learn How to Do That”, “You Got the Wrong Guy”, “Trouble,” “Paint the Town Redneck” and “Broke” have the universal access through which we can all see ourselves. The one minute introduction, “Northern Anthem,” sets the theme, celebrating the vastness of a great land.
Brody is one of Country’s prolific songwriters, but he only penned two songs on his latest —“Northern Anthem” and “Trouble.” He had a number of friends contribute songwriting skills on “Right Round Here.” As he told the Townsman, the lockdowns of the pandemic were hard on his songwriting — he is only now just coming out of a songwriting dry spell resulting from that vacuum, and the dearth of other people in his life to inspire him.
“To be honest, my songwriting took a hit during the lockdowns,” Brody said, over the phone from his home in Kelowna, “I wrote maybe four songs in two and a half years.”
One would think the (enforced) privacy would be conducive to writing. Certainly other artists have spoken about a great burst of creativity and time to write. But types like Dean Brody need other people around, and the influence of other people to generate that.
“I’m a quiet guy, I like being in the country,” Brody said. “I didn’t think I needed to be around people like I do. That was kind of a wake-up call for me, and a reminder that we need to be around each other.”
“So I went through a real dry phase. I’m just coming out of it now. And starting to write again. But it was the first time in my life where I just didn’t have anything to say. And discovering that again, and seeing that come alive again creatively is encouraging, and I’m thankful it’s coming back.”
Nonetheless, Brody is proud of his new record, and pleased he got to record some of his friends’ songs on it. These include “Broke,” which was written by James Barker of the James Barker Band.
“I love that song, Man, it really reminds me of the East Kootenays — the people I grew up with, the people I worked with, the place that raised me.
“I’m very proud of where I’m from, and that song reflects the hard work ethic of people in that area.”
The title track “Right Round Here” is by Jenna and Stu Walkers of the Reklaws, along with Callum Maudsley.
“They’re just really cool people who’ve become very good friends, so I was happy to be able to able to record a couple of Jenna and Stu songs on this record.”
The Walkers also helped out with “Where’d You Learn To Do That,” and “Then There’s You.” Other writers on the album include Griffen Palmer, Life Rose, Mark Trussel, Jesse Lee, Michael Hardy — not just friends, but also names making waves in Country music, Canadian and U.S., many working out of Nashville.
The majority of the album was recorded in Nashville.
“When I write a song, or have a song, it’s usually just guitar/vocal. You take that into the studio with the musicians. The majority of this record was recorded in Nashville. I recorded some of ‘Northern Anthem’ at home here [in Kelowna], some vocals in Nashville, some vocals in Kelowna.
“It was a kind of back-and-forth between Nashville and Kelowna, this project.”
Brody has set off on the road on tour to support “Right Round Here,” hitting 26 cities through October and November. He touches down in Vernon, Trail and Cranbrook on Oct. 17, 18 and 19 respectively.
The “Right Round Here” tour is acoustically inclined. It features Brody and his drummer, guitar player and fiddle player — “more of a kitchen party,” he says.
“I do love the connection that happens, especially in a smaller venue …” he says of a smaller venue and more stripped down show. “We’re all right there together, close, in a small room. It allows me to be more vulnerable, tell more stories, and back stories about the songs, and where I’m at in life.”
The tour gives Brody a chance to reconnect with the people and values he has come to know so well — across Canada and back where he grew up.
“We had a film crew come out a film some stuff out there last summer,” he said. “Back home on Steeples Ranch, where Dad was a ranch hand for a few years … to relive some memories, do some interviews. We’re going to have some moments like that [during the show].”
Dean Brody plays the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre on Tuesday, Oct. 17, the Charles Bailey Theatre in Trail on Wednesday, Oct. 18, and the Key City Theatre in Cranbrook on October 19.
At the Canadian Country Music Awards last month, Brody was honoured at September’s CCMA Awards with the Gary Slaight Music Humanitarian Award, for the Dean Brody Foundation, which he created in 2011 to support the rescue of young girls and the prevention of exploitation and trafficking in Brazil.
“The Dean Brody Foundation was started after a life-changing trip, in hopes of giving a voice to the voiceless,” Brody explained, in a release earlier.
Brody has personally donated more than $500,000 to the organization, which partnered in 2021 with International Justice Mission to fight the online exploitation of children in the Philippines.