Singer-songwriter Brandon Ratcliff has released a series of songs leading up to a forthcoming album Tale Of Two Towns, all of which have been received well. The project is set for release on Jan. 6 via Monument Records.
Ratcliff’s new music is the result of a reconnection to his roots in Cotton Valley, as he spent the last two years discovering, questioning, and wrestling with who he is as a man and as an artist. The artist recently stopped by MusicRow‘s office to play a sampling.
“Like most of us, when COVID happened, I had this unique new thing in my life: silence. For me, it was the first bit of silence I had since I moved to Nashville. Very early on, I remember thinking to myself, ‘I don’t want to come out of this season feeling like I wasted this time. I want to use this to my advantage,'” Ratcliff tells MusicRow. “I gave myself permission to give myself over to my creative desires, whatever those are. That informed the whole last season of my life. I became consumed with the concept of ‘The Tale Of Two Towns.”
The inspirational title track finds Ratcliff analyzing the consequences and benefits of leaving your hometown. He says the tune was the first he’s written that felt starkly true to himself.
“In Nashville, everybody who came here was the best in their hometown. It’s like college sports in some sense because everyone is coming to the next level to learn how to write, play, and sing. That’s great, but you can hit a ceiling at some point with the formular of writing songs. That was the season I was in,” he says. “I was bored with myself because I felt like I was writing and singing stuff that was good, but it didn’t necessarily have anything to do with my life.
“I realized that I wanted my personal life and my professional life to be somewhat tethered together, at least philosophically, so [the music] is in the same place that I’m at or came from.”
An unreleased track on the album, “Where I’m Coming From,” deals with the other side of the coin about the people in his family—namely his grandfather—who were also musically inclined, but felt a responsibility to stay in their hometown.
“My Papaw passed away a few years ago. I unfortunately never got to have this conversation with him while he was alive, but this song is the ghost of my grandpa talking, coming from the other side of the equation,” Ratcliff says. “I was the guy who left in my family, went off, chased my dreams, and planted new roots. They were the ones who started the music in our family but they always had one foot in and one foot out. They would play shows and come back to Cotton Valley and raise their family.”
He adds, “There are pros and cons to both of those [ways of life], but this is his perspective.”
Sonically, the songs that have been released from Tale Of Two Towns differ from Ratcliff’s earlier music. The shift is something Ratcliff has been trying to identify since signing with Monument Records in 2018. The same year he signed, he found great success with his R&B-flavored debut single “Rules Of Breaking Up,” which helped him accumulate over 50 million streams and tour with the likes of Keith Urban, Brett Young, and Kelsea Ballerini.
With Tale of Two Towns, Ratcliff hopes to reintroduce himself to fans with music that he feels is confident and true to himself.
“This is a growing up record. It’s me leaving my hometown and really facing those hypothetical questions of who would I be if I never left, versus who am I today because I did?”
The full-length project is available for pre-order now.
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