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Adam Brand Breaks Down Every Track On New Album ‘All Or Nothing’

26 August 2022 | 12:33 pm | Mallory Arbour

‘All Or Nothing’ is out now!

Adam Brand

Adam Brand (Image: Supplied/Glenn Hunt)

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Today, our ‘Centre Stage’ artist of the week, Adam Brand has released his long-awaited new album, All Or Nothing. Conceived and recorded during lockdown, this celebrated country music artist has created a new work that tells something of his own story and mirrors the challenging times we live in.

“I didn't really set about to make an album, which is strange for me,” explains Brand of the process. “Usually, when it's time to make a record, I start compiling ideas, I start writing more, I start fishing for songs from songwriter friends. Traditionally - for me - making an album is like building a house from start to finish.

“But, All Or Nothing was different because it was recorded through Covid,” he adds. “Everything was different. We didn’t know if we were ever going to make albums again or what was going to happen. So, I just started off - relatively quietly - by going into a friend's studio while I was over in Perth - to do ‘a couple of songs’.

It features singles Still The One, I’m Coming Home, and the album’s title track All Or Nothing, which was co-written with The Wolfe Brothers and peaked at #1 Countrytown Hot 50 Country Airplay Chart. These new tracks have already cemented themselves as firm favourites on playlists across the country.

All Or Nothing is a significant new addition to the Adam Brand cannon, continuing to build on an impressive catalogue. Over an already stellar career, Brand has won 12 Golden Guitars and has been nominated for six ARIA Awards. Across 15 studio records, he has three platinum and five gold albums, and eight CMC Oz Artist of the Year Awards.

We’re so delighted to bring you this exclusive track by track, as Adam Brand talks us through each individual track: the creation, sentiment, and everything in between.

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1. All Or Nothing

The song is about giving 100 percent. It's about having skin in the game. It's about having real firsthand experience about something that you're singing about. 

If I had to sum it up in one word, I'd say the song was about authenticity. There's a lot of -- you can go out and buy a dual-cab, but that doesn't make you a farmer. You can stand on stage and say you're a country singer and have no idea what country's all about. That's what the chorus is -- ‘if you're going to sing a country song, make it a real one’. If you want to sing about heartbreak, try some. It's very much a song about authenticity. If you're going to stand for something, stand tall and know what you're talking about.

Within the context of the story, it's this old fella passing down his wisdom to the next generation, to his grandson probably. That's where all these words of wisdom in the choruses are coming from.

The verses are about this old guy who's seen all these incredible events in the world, so he's passing down the things that he's learnt. There are some things in there, like there's the breakdown when I say, "There's probably a few things I'm going to say to my little girls one day," the same kind of words, which is obviously all tied back to me and my life. 

But there's something my mum used to say to me when I used to go to school when I was very young. She said, "You want to be a friend? You want to get a friend? You want a good friend, then learn to be a good friend." There's a lot of those little things in this song. Words like that made it.

I've been collecting a whole bunch of these lyrics and phrases and ideas for probably a good 12 months, just jotting them down. I knew I wanted to write the song with -- once I'd been collecting all these ideas, I knew that I wanted to write the song with Nick and Tom, the Wolfe Brothers. 

I purposely kept stacking ideas, stacking lines and phrases, stacking them thinking, I'm not even going to try and work on the song. I want to actually work on this song with these boys. Those boys grew up on a working farm in Tasmania and still live there. They know about authenticity. I love the boys, and I thought if I'm going to write this song with somebody, I'm going to write with them.

2. 1905

There are a few songs in here that were written a fair while back. I've been sitting on them, waiting for the time when I wanted to do them. I wrote this with my mate Mike Carr, who I've written so many songs with over the years. We'd written it so long ago, and we never did anything about it. I sent him our old demo and he couldn’t remember it! 

I guess during the whole COVID time, we were being dictated to or told what to do at every morning at 8 o'clock and every night at 6 o'clock on the news or whatever. “This is what's happening; you’re going to do this”. I just felt like ‘damn it’. This song is very much a -- I don't know how to put it, probably a stick it to the man sort of song. 

Not so much ‘anti-establishment’ but no, you're not going to tell me what to do. You're not going to pull down the bakery that my granddad built and put a drive-thru there. You're not going to do it, and if I can't beat you on my terms, then I'll burn the damn thing down.  It's all wrapped up in a story, that feeling of stop shoving this stuff down my throat.  

3. Homegrown Love

Just last year, I bought a little property, only about seven-and-a-half acres, but it's my little baby farm. If you listen to the lyrics of this song, it's about ‘here’. I actually wrote it on the back porch, and it's pretty much word-for-word true what happens here. People are coming in here all the time. I've always got people staying. We're always cooking for people and having get-togethers.

My little three-year-old girl, since she's been probably two-years old in the last year, she can't say the word family. She says “Fangally,”, so we've named this place the "Fangally Farm". If you come to the Fangally Farm, homegrown love is exactly the experience you're going to have.

4. God Walks In The Room

Mike Carr and another bloke called Travis Meadows are my two biggest song-writing partners in my career, and this was written by Travis Meadows. He wrote it with Tom Douglas, a writer in Nashville. He sent me this song a couple of years ago, and every time I listened to it, I would just choke up and be in tears. It was just poignant, so pin-pointed to me. What I get from it is, it's about being lost, and it's about those little things that bring you back. It's watching your little girl eating some ice cream. It's my partner who, when I feel like I'm in a completely desperate state and I don't know what to do, … she brings me back.  

Some of the lines in there -- "She calls me like Jesus when he's three days in the tomb." I mean, it's just -- we get so caught up in all those things that seem like incredible, insurmountable obstacles in our life. We forget about all those simple things that actually mean more and actually are more important. It's those -- "I get lost, and I get found again," and then where it really hits me and brings it all back is in that sort of third verse when it says, "When you least expect it, that's when God walks in the room." 

It could be all over like that. Treat each breath like a holy moment. All this ‘stuff’ is going to mean absolutely nothing when we aren't here. That is really when God walks in the room. He walks in and goes, "Right, your time's done, son." You know what I mean? That is like whoa, so this song just nails me.

This song just has this incredible way of touching a nerve. And it's not a religious song. It's about something that's so much bigger.

5. Still The One

Still the One, the storyline is about two people in a relationship, about going through the rollercoaster of life. Of all the things that can bring us undone, but no matter what happens, they stick with each other. And they look at each other and go "You're still the one," no matter what happens. 

I wrote it during the time of COVID. It was almost like it doesn't matter what's going to happen, they're going to throw at us next, whether it was the government, whether it's viruses, whatever it is.  We're going to get through it. So, there's also a broader feel to it as well that we'll be all right.

6. Changing Tunes

I think pretty autobiographical. It's about my partner and my little girl. I’ve always been a bit of a party guy. It's been my race cars and all this stuff. But They literally changed my tune, especially when I held my daughter. The amount of times I hear from my mates now, and they're obviously having a fun sort of crack at me: "Oh, you've changed. You've changed." Yep - I have! 

What I love about this song is, it's the circle of life. It really hit home. I get emotional right at the end — at the start, I'm talking to my partner. Then I'm talking to my girl, so I love what it says.

7. How They’ll Remember Me

I wrote this years ago when I was living in Nashville, in 2010 with my mate Sam Hawksley. I was sitting there talking about ideas for a song. I said what happens when we go? How are they going to remember us? 

Obviously, the story unfolded. As I reached back into the vault, when I started putting these songs together, this one always kept coming back... It just felt right to record it this time, probably because of where I'm at in life.

8. Old School

Again, right in that middle COVID time, my partner and my little girl got in a big motorhome, and we went out to looking for gold, basically. I'd been watching Aussie Gold Hunters, like most of us have. I thought, ‘singing’s done. I'm out, I'm done. I'm going to go and find some gold’.

So, me and my mate -- my mate's actually the CEO of a gold exploration company. We both took our families out there and spent three months all over the ground, detecting. We got an excavator and a small wash plant and were having a great time.

We didn't find much gold, but it was awesome. It was so good. These words just started coming to me as I was going through the motions. I pretty much wrote it out there in the dust and dirt, doing all this stuff.

9. A Little Less Lonely

I wrote this with a very good friend in Nashville, Erin Enderlin (who wrote Monday Morning Church for Alan Jackson). Again, this is quite old. It was again one of those songs that I thought, ‘one day I'm going to do this song’, but - theme wise - it never felt it was the right time.

Now it fitted. The whole album isn't like this, but it very much fits the feel, it’s kind of a retro feel. It feels like it's an old Traveling Wilburys sort of song, it’s a classic melody and chord progression and it just felt good to play.

10. I’m Coming Home

I met a guy whose name is Ves, and he was a pop, hip-hop producer from Finland who's now living in Western Australia. I'd gone in and recorded A Little Less Lonely and Old School in an old friend of mine's studio. I've known this guy for 30 years. We hooked up again, and I said, ‘While I'm over here doing the gold thing’, Well … every two or three weeks we'd go to Perth for two or three nights. I went into the studio, and I got my guys in the band to send me their tracks. I put a little acoustic demo down. They sent me the drum tracks; the guitar tracks and we compiled them in the studio.  My mate knew Ves. 

He introduced me, and he said, "Oh, I've been working on some country stuff, actually." I said, "I'd like to hear it." Bang, this song came out. He also is the guy I wrote Homegrown Love and Still the One with. 

With I'm Coming Home, they basically had the song written, and I said I really love it, but lyrically, if I was to think about doing it, I'd need to work on it to make it more me. Also being pop guys, the lyric probably needed a bit more country connections in there.

I went through and worked on the lyrics. Because we were away from home, it felt good. It felt right. And on this album, it just felt right to put that at the end. Life and career wise, I feel like I'm where I'm meant to be. It's not coming back home, but maybe I finally found my home.


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