By Zach Collier
It’s funny to hear Provo singer/songwriter Paul Travis so self conscious. We fell in love with his music after hearing his stellar live set during the preliminary and final rounds of the Muse Music Songwriter Showdown last March. His Songs For Ruth is a great album in its own right, featuring intricate acoustic guitar parts, insightfully introspective lyrics, arrangements involving string quartets and timpani, and Travis’ signature falsetto-heavy tenor vocals. The album is made all the more impressive when you factor in the age he was when he made it.
“Songs for Ruth is very reminiscent of my last years of childhood – being 16 and 17 years old and such,” says Travis in a personal correspondence with Reach Provo. “It was my first attempt with some of my first fully-written songs. Technically it’s not something I’m very proud of, but I’ve kept it around because of how sentimental my loved ones are about it. I can smile at it occasionally.”
Though he may not be a fan of it, we are. The beauty and intricacy of Songs For Ruth and Travis’ insatiable thirst for perfection made us all the more excited for a new release. The latest Paul Travis album hit digital distribution outlets last night. Braille is the emotional follow up to 2014’s Songs For Ruth.
“Though its specificity is geared toward the events of more recent years, this record is ultimately a subconscious culmination of everything I’ve ever touched in my (almost exact) 21 years of life. Hence the title Braille,” says Travis about his inspiration for the album. “It’s safe to say I’ve learned everything I should’ve learned before even trying [Songs For Ruth]. I had no knowledge of engineering, production or even really how I wanted the first record to sound. Braille was more painstaking because my expectations were higher, I had over a thousand more crafting hours under my belt, and the nature of the songs were very specific. Both were initially written in hopes to just achieve some sort of catharsis, but I feel this new release will grow new meanings and significance like many things do.”
Aurally, the new album is more epic in scope. Where Songs For Ruth felt like an intimate living room show in an isolated cabin somewhere on a summer night, Braille feels like a reverent autumn performance in a concert hall. The harmonies in the last two minutes of “Formaldehyde” will give you chills. The instrumental arrangements are much more detailed this time around, adding electric guitar, brass, woodwinds, and organ to the acoustic guitar and strings setup of the first album. The added instrumentation played a vital role in painting a true to life sonic picture of real experiences.
“As melodramatic as it may sound, attempting such an autobiographical album was one of the most uniquely difficult things I’ve ever done. I often joked about burial arrangements because I thought it was going to kill me!” Travis says with a laugh. More sincerely, he says, “I’m a crybaby and I love every person that even gives it a skim.”
Braille is now available on iTunes, Spotify, and Google Play. Make sure to like Paul Travis on Facebook and listen to “Formaldehyde” below to get a feel for the new record.