Singer-Songwriter Brandon Pfaff Releases Gentle New EP, Old Thoughts
Brandon Pfaff is massively talented in a quiet way. Perhaps he doesn’t even know it. Brandon’s music, though, deserves your ears and your attention, because it’s relatively sweet and simple, but every component of a Brandon Pfaff song is so well-crafted and suggests that the California singer-songwriter will never stop comforting the soul.
Released last month, his newest EP, Old Thoughts, is a five-track “exploration of honest questions, boredom, and the sometimes daunting task of adjusting expectations in the face of reality,” Brandon tells The Music Mermaid. “I'm trying to make honest observations of the joys and frustrations of my surroundings. It's about trying to connect the dots between one moment and another and move forward hoping that those who listen would connect as well.”
Old Thoughts accomplishes this humble goal. Opening with “As Good As Mine,” resounding with thick acoustic strums that soon merge with jangling percussion, our first introduction to Brandon’s vocals is a dream — he comes in suddenly, seeming to creep out of the twangy arrangement until his quivering croon takes the forefront of the EP’s wispy indie-folk opener. It’s like a lazing mantra or an echo, steady strums tapping out some sort of soft hypnosis before we move into the EP’s title track. On “Old Thoughts,” Brandon excites the sonic palette with deep blooms of synth and a more robust composition that gets into new territory — this isn’t just an acoustic ballad. It’s upbeat and fast-paced, made lush by his own drone.
The halfway point of Old Thoughts finds “Half Empty,” an obvious standout of the record. A nearly lo-fi effort, it straddles the line between impossibly tender and cut by an edge. The guitars are grunge-y and fuzzy and textured but then suddenly, out of nowhere, these swirls of buzzing synth make their otherworldly debut, rounding the track out as a zippy anthem you won’t soon forget. On “Weight of Everything,” Brandon continues to deliver magic. It’s looser and slower on the rock tone, veering into more tender territory as smacks of drum pad beats slap out a hard-hitting rhythm beneath Brandon’s best vocals and songwriting, a gorgeous effort that acts as the EP’s beating heart. Old Thoughts ends with a goosebump conclusion. Aided just by his acoustic and the hush of harmony, Brandon offers his most emotional song yet with “Run Like Rain,” a track that thrums ever so gently. What Brandon is able to evoke out of simple strums is nothing short of miraculous — he says so much with so little sound.
From sharp folk twang to fuzzy rock to quiet acoustic, Old Thoughts is an EP rich with genre-bending talent from an artist whose sole thread is the voice and the story that ties the record together. Brandon Pfaff is special. His music is too.