Although Brandy Zdan calls her new, self-titled album her full-length “debut,” there’s no mistaking this seasoned singer-songwriter for any kind of rookie. For the better part of the last decade, the native Canadian — now living in Nashville, TN— has garnered acclaim as half of the gothic folk/roots duo Twilight Hotel, with two albums, 2008’s Highway Prayer and 2011’s When the Wolves Go Blind, nominated for prestigious Juno Awards (Canada’s Grammy), as a formidable multi-instrumentalist (touring and recording with the Americana all-girl band the Trishas), and even as a solo artist (with LoneStarMusic hailing her 2013 Lone Hunter EP as “a one-woman tour de force.”) But according to the artist herself, all of that was merely a prelude to the aptly-titled Brandy Zdan, the most focused expression of her musical identity to date.
As brought into vivid focus on Brandy Zdan, produced by Teddy Morgan in Nashville, TN, featuring a cast of musicians including Carl Broemal (pedal steel) and Tom Blankenship (bass) of My Morning Jacket and drummer Richard Medek (Alternate Roots, John Doe). That vision showcases not just her strong vocals and guitar, steel and keyboard playing, but an affinity for writing mature indie-rock and pop songs with hauntingly gorgeous melodies and edgy arrangements. Ribboned with wide swaths of warm guitar and chilly blue atmosphere, the album buzzes with static overdrive and a bracingly raw emotional honesty. From the assertive opening charge of “Back on You” through to the electronic pulse of the gauntlet-throwing closer, “More of a Man,” its 11 originals fit together seamlessly to form a self portrait of an artist in full, confident flight. And if the result feels more like an arrival than a “debut,” as far as Zdan herself is concerned, it’s all the same.