The Kalamazoo singer-songwriter’s new album was featured for Local Spins on WYCE, which also debuted tracks by Distant Stars, From Big Sur, Joel Comstock, The American Hotel System and others.
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When Kalamazoo singer-songwriter Brian Koenigsknecht’s father died unexpectedly at 69 of a brain aneurysm, it opened up the floodgates for a year of grief.
It also inspired a new studio album, “Healing Bridges,” that Koenigsknecht considers his most honest work yet, releasing it this summer in hopes it might help others “healing from loss.”
“He was just a huge influence in music. Anytime I’d write something new … I’d send it to him,” Koenigsknecht reflects, noting he struggled for months after his father, Ron, passed away last year.
“And then started writing and floodgates opened up and I had just so many things to say – well, more things to feel and had to just put it down.”
Appropriately, Koenigsknecht, 46, recorded the new album on his father’s acoustic guitar – “the very same 1976 Guild D-50” that he first learned to play at age 9 under his father’s tutelage.
It was “a positive way to connect with him” and work through the never-ending process of mourning a loved one.
“There’s no right or wrong in grieving. There’s no playbook,” he concedes. “It just changes the landscape of life. I hope the listener can see that it’s OK.”
What emerges on “Healing Bridges” – recorded at La Luna Recording & Sound and officially released this week – is a journey through the ups and downs, the pain and the joy, the recollections and the regrets of the mourning process.
Perhaps due partly to his father, whose massive vinyl record collection has long inspired Koenigsknecht, the new solo album reflects the vibe of everything from Neil Young and Simon & Garfunkel to Bruce Springsteen’s “Nebraska.”
Koenigsknecht shared his two favorite songs from the new album – “Happiness” and “Unbecoming” – for this week’s edition of Local Spins on WYCE. Watch the new video for “Unbecoming” here and scroll down to listen to the full radio show podcast.
VIDEO: Brian Koenigsknecht, “Unbecoming”
Koenigsknecht readily admits that “Unbecoming” is a “very honest” and “matter of fact” depiction of falling back on alcohol and “some things that aren’t good for me” in numbing the pain and coping with loss. It was important to include the song in the collection, he says, as a way of helping others with similar experiences.
And while there’s certainly sadness weaving its way through the album, there’s also an uplifting, hopeful air, something best expressed in the opening track, “Happiness.” As Koenigsknecht puts it, “It’s OK to be happy.”
He initially planned an elaborate recording session for “Healing Bridges,” his sixth studio album since the late 1990s, with guest musicians and singers. But due to the COVID-19 shutdown this spring, “it became a very stripped-down, solo acoustic album that I really think my father would have liked.”
Although live performances in support of the new album have been put off for now due to the pandemic, Koenigsknecht hopes to release videos, perform a few live-stream shows, post on social media and otherwise promote “Healing Bridges” in coming months.
“I’ve survived and found joy in remembering dad in the right ways and believing I’ll be OK,” he says.
“And I’m ready to start writing again.”
This week’s episode of Local Spins on WYCE (which showcases Michigan music at 11 a.m. Fridays on WYCE 88.1 FM and online at wyce.org) also featured the on-air debut of new tracks by From Big Sur, Distant Stars, Joel Comstock, Lynn & The Moonshine Runners and The American Hotel System, as well as music from The Gasoline Gypsies, The Go Rounds and Darcy Wilkin (this week’s musician’s pick by Koenigsknecht). Listen to the radio show here.
PODCAST: Local Spins on WYCE (7/31/20)
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