Brandyn Burnette Heals on ‘Feature Films’
Brandyn Burnette describes his music as “healing,” which is an interesting declaration for any musician, let alone one trying to break into the mainstream. For the Los Angeles-based producer and singer-songwriter, though, his work doesn’t try very hard to fit into any preexisting mold. As shown on his recent EP Feature Films, Burnette’s writing style is deeply personal and follows the ups and downs of his life thus far with stark honesty. He blends his soul baring with some creative production choices, all of which make for a unique sound and a captivating EP.
In the early moments of the EP’s first song “Escape,” Burnette sings, “If there’s anybody out there, show me the way/ is there anybody out there? I’ve been losing faith.” The line gives a pretty clear indication of his disposition. The song’s melancholy production also adds to the introspective mood, which is capped off with the line, “The mind is a prison that you can’t escape.” Burnette’s smooth vocal delivery, combined with the minimal production and intimate lyrics, set the tone for the rest of the EP.
On “Manifest,” Burnette draws our attention to the concept of money and how it drives many of society’s ills. Over contemplative piano chords, he writes, “We don’t take much to the grave/ so tell me why we spend these lives working so hard for the wage/ when none of it matters.” The song’s energy picks up steam at the hook as Burnette denounces our dependence on financial security: “Take my money, my problems, my fears before they manifest.”
In the song’s second verse, he shows off some impressive flow with lyrics that delve into the church’s part in these complicated dynamics. He punctuates the verse with the words, “The price of heaven isn’t cheap but it sure does sell.” The song acts as a journey through some of various trials he has experienced in his life. In the third verse he describes an attempted suicide and then reconciling with his mother. He caps off the verse with the line, “It ain’t about what we been through/ it’s what we get through,” punctuating the song with a self-affirming sentiment.
Burnette pivots from the deeply personal toward the romantic on “Feature Film.” He professes his infatuation with a love interest, saying, “I could watch you like a feature film.” Only later in the track do we find out that this person is someone from his past and he is apparently trying to mend some wounds. He writes, “We could rewind, I’ll make it better than the first time.” The song fluctuates between a mellow vibe, similar to the preceding tracks, and a higher-energy double time feel, which suits the track’s more purposeful subject matter.
Feature Films closes with the more uplifting “Your Voice” and “Fuel” and then another complicated love story on “20 Years From Now.” In the former two tracks, Burnette gives off a sense of perseverance after the trials he had described prior. Perhaps the most telling line comes in “Your Voice” when he sings, “I know these demons talk, but baby don’t lose your voice/ I know this money talks, but baby don’t lose your voice.” At the conclusion of the EP it’s clear that Burnette means what he says when he talks about being true to oneself through severe adversity.
The subtlety and musically understated nature of Feature Films may prevent it from really standing out among similar releases, but listeners who invest the time to get to know Burnette and understand his style and sensibility will be greatly rewarded. His personal approach to music is endearing and engaging and his production work is outside of the box. These elements combined should make his work become much more widely known in the coming years.