Brendan & the Strangest Ways is the moniker adopted by songwriter Brendan Shea to create music for the restless spirit. His songs are heartfelt reflections on the loves and losses experienced over countless miles traveled in a search for something that always feels just a little out of reach. In autumn 2016, Brendan returned home to Buffalo, NY after completing a seven-year journey that saw him living and playing on and around all three US Coasts.
He got his education in the thriving Austin scene, which he’s aptly referred to as “musician boot camp. Singer/songwriters were falling off trees, and gigs were hard to come by. But it was a great place to meet some like-minded people, who moved there from wherever they grew up to see what they could make of themselves, and more or less settled for an opportunity to develop their chops and learn how to network a bit. But after almost two years, it had become pretty obvious I would have to put what I learned into practice in another place if I ever wanted to get anywhere with it … so I decided to move on.
He applied his professional knowledge in the storied music city of Seattle, developing his sound while fronting a talented crop of revolving-door bandmates who would help him record his full-length debut, Brendan & the Strangest Ways, over a year-and-a-half span ending in 2015. Bass and drums were tracked in a community theater space in a northern Seattle neighborhood. Brendan recorded the rest of the album himself on a laptop, most of it in a guest bungalow on a horse ranch just outside of Austin. He would never be fully certain of how many half-finished, that-felt-like-the-one takes were sacrificed to the crowing of roosters or buzzing of low-flying planes, but in the end he was confident he came away with an album that successfully rose above its modest means of production.
Upon its release, Brendan set out on a cross-country summer tour in a 26-foot RV. Over the next few years he would continue to travel down “Any Road They Can Unwind” to meet and perform for new people in new towns, from the Gulf Coast to the Carolinas to the Mid-Atlantic to the Midwest, handling all the booking, promoting, driving, setting up and tearing down in true grassroots fashion, crashing on couches when they’re available, and in vehicles when they’re not, paying his dues and then some.
Early in 2019, ground was broken on the follow-up album Are We Sure The Dawn Is Coming, at County Q in Nashville. “This is the record I’ve always wanted to make,” says Brendan. “I wanted to step my game up in a big way, and the results didn’t disappoint. I’m finally hearing all the sounds the way I imagined them in my head after a long, long time of having to live with something less.” The sessions were performed by a genuine who’s-who of Alt-country players in a single afternoon. The lead single, “We Can Beat Mercury” is slated for an October release, with the complete album due out in 2020.
Brendan’s peers have called him a true songwriter’s songwriter who expertly crafts his lyrics like a mason building a brick wall, and whose haunting melodies have a way of outlasting durations of quiet to stay stuck in your head long after you’ve heard the last note.