Somewhere Different

Somewhere Different

“I wanted to make a record that you could just listen to, not a record solely for musicians to analyze,” New York-based harpist Brandee Younger tells Apple Music. “This is accessible, beautiful music for people who might not ordinarily listen to harp music to get into.” Younger has spent the past 15 years diversifying the output of the ancient stringed instrument, playing as a session musician with hip-hop and R&B royalty like Common, The Roots, and Lauryn Hill, as well as with jazz luminaries Pharoah Sanders and Jack DeJohnette. For her eighth LP, Somewhere Different, she maintains that genre-spanning ethos, working with legendary jazz bassist Ron Carter as well as producer Dezron Douglas to create eight compositions that run the gamut from ’70s funk and Latin jazz to spiritual balladry and an homage to the TV show Law & Order. Here, she discusses each of the album’s tracks. “Reclamation” “I was commissioned to write a composition for the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival a few years ago, and when I was coming up with a theme, I kept thinking of Maxine Waters saying she was ‘reclaiming my time’ in a 2017 Congressional hearing. In the context of where we are right now, when we haven’t been able to do so many things because of COVID, it feels like I’m ready to reclaim everything I can: peace, being social, having fun, working outside of the house. This track is all about reclaiming what you want—it’s an empowering statement to begin with.” “Spirit U Will” “Dezron composed this for me as an ode to Alice Coltrane. We wanted to give it more of a modern vibe, which is why we have Maurice Brown playing the trumpet with his synthesized effects. I wanted this album to be mostly original compositions, because all of my past recordings have been a combination of originals and standards by my heroes. Somewhere Different is representative of today by having all the tunes composed from the present moment.” “Pretend” (feat. Tarriona “Tank” Ball) “Sometimes I suffer from not knowing what I want on a track, but with ‘Pretend,’ right away I knew that I wanted vocals. I’m always singing in my head or singing when I’m practicing, and this tune needed a voice to go with it. I saw Tank perform live with her band, The Bangas, at the opening of The Shed in New York, and I was blown away by their live show. So, I sent her the track and said, ‘Put your thing on it.’ She came back with these amazingly poetic lyrics on romance and affairs." “Somewhere Different” “This is the track I was most nervous about. The harp world is, for the most part, very traditional, and I do a lot of work as a session player where I play lots of hip-hop and R&B—things that are not traditional classical or jazz. So, I wanted this track to be reflective of my musical background. I created a solo harp opening and a solo interlude, and then we have a Latin groove, before adding in these trap drums to give it a little Cardi B feel. It’s where the album title came from, as I’m playing from this space of difference.” “Love & Struggle” “In early 2020, I wrote the music for an Audible production called In Love and Struggle, which was Black women like Anita Hill and Sarah Jones telling stories. It was the highlight of my 2020. This piece is split into sections, and it plays through the meaning of that title ‘Love & Struggle.’ Some of the parts in the opening are just like when you’re testing the waters out and you’re being safe in a relationship. Then you’re getting to know someone and seeing different sides to them, and that can be difficult. It’s an expression of the ebb and flow of a relationship.” “Beautiful Is Black” “I wanted a ballad on the record, because the harp isn’t an instrument where you can easily hold notes on, which makes playing slow a challenge. I wanted to create something really beautiful, specifically with Ron Carter in mind, that would challenge me to take a step back and let the sound ring out rather than keep filling it with notes. I wanted something that sounded super pure, and I was thinking of Alice Coltrane and her Ptah the El Daoud album when I wrote this, which is a record Ron Carter actually played on. Beauty is black, and that’s where this title comes from. Why do we think of black as being negative and white as being beautiful? It’s something we have to keep challenging.” “Olivia Benson” “I don’t really watch much TV, but when I do, it’s only ever Law & Order. Being home this year and not touring, it became very clear how much I watch this show—so much so that Dezron was shocked! This song is a playful theme and an homage to one of its main characters, Olivia Benson, who is played by Mariska Hargitay. Post-lockdown, I’m still watching her now, too!” “Tickled Pink” “This tune is so simple, but the band and I just love playing it. When I wrote it, I instinctively labeled the chart ‘happy song’ because that was the effect it had on me. Someone pointed out to me that one of my last albums, Wax & Wane, was all in a minor key, so I was conscious of trying to write something major for this record. My grandmother used to say, ‘Oh, I’m so tickled,’ when she was happy, so it felt like the perfect title for it. It feels right to end on a positive note of hope.”

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