Quotes

“The lyrics are amazing! It’s the universal experience of love.”

fan

“It’s obvious from the first listen that this is an artist who is extremely honest. It just feels very real.”

fan

“No one’s as deep as Dave.”

music colleague

About David Bronson

Seven years ago NYC-based singer-songwriter/producer/multi-instrumentalist David Bronson left a burgeoning New York indie rock band to begin a necessary calling: the realization of a 22-song autobiographical concept record that had overtaken his interior life. Collectively titled The Long Lost Story, the project is a two-installment narrative chronicling a Pandora’s box of an emotional journey, originally stemming from a failed relationship that destabilized David and thrust him into a slate-cleaning, introspective quest. This June he releases Story, the 11-track second half of the project; its prequel The Long Lost will be released at a later date.

“The project started in the aftermath of a traumatic relationship and it became a retelling of my own journey getting through that; really a metaphor of growth. But, over time, it also became very much about the completion of the thing itself, ‘Can I do this?’ It became all consuming, and a real test, of sorts,” David explains of the project’s dual emotional trajectories.

Story sets sail with the following opening lyric from “The Turns”: You told me it was too much/ I said that's exactly how I want it, so/ We, although nothing could be gained, gave it everything just the same/ So we grabbed on tight and held fast just like a child/ And watched the best idea so quickly turn the worst one, though/ In those few hundred times you gave to me the whole, the full inside, a single lifetime.

It’s a telling entrance to a richly detailed and layered album experience in that it reveals David’s sense of commitment — romantic and idealistic — and hints at the ways in which this amorous resilience unravels into a transformative existential crisis. It’s a daunting conceptual undertaking: using the arc of a relationship as a metaphor not only for the scope of an entire life's development, but also for the complex and difficult process of completing a highly personal artistic project.

David’s Cat Stevens-esque vocals have a plaintive humility, and a twangy, melodic, resonance that speak to the emotionality of the epic. “The Turns” wraps around you with a comforting Pink Floyd-ian sense of alienation, managing to feel hopeful when everything feels hopeless.  The arrangement has a sprawling earthiness; big, open, and textured with skyward lead guitar excursions jetting up to lysergic bliss.

The quaintly rustic nature of “The Turns” is complimentarily contrasted with the muscular, Bowie-esque classic rock sprawl of “Times,” the second track on Story. Burly Led Zeppelin drums and strangled guitars dynamically offset the psychedelic haze of “The Turns,” establishing early on the album’s diverse and emotional pacing. Legendary producer and recording and mix engineer Godfrey Diamond (Lou Reed, Aerosmith, Sparks, Glen Campbell), recorded numerous overdubs, mixed, and assisted David with the finishing of the album, while the majority of the double record was recorded at the studios of Brooklyn/Manhattan-based Producer/Engineer/Mixer Matt Gill (Fischerspooner, Aimee Mann, The Raveonettes).

The record maintains a filmic rhythm, with forward motion set against scene-setting reflective breathers. “Things moved around and fell into place based on an overall dynamic movement. The songs ended up having certain overriding feelings—like hope or anger—and I wanted the whole album to reflect that range. The protagonist starts out broken, and the question is ‘Will I get through this?’” David says. “There is a little bit of wisdom and perspective by the second half of the album,” he explains, referencing how the latter half of Story, with songs like “Watch The Sun (October Reprise)” and “Outside,” has a meditative quality that sweetly closes out the narrative.

The self-referential nature of the album, which employs intertwining and repeated lyrical and musical motifs, gives the album a sense of cohesion independent of its well-considered dramatic sequence. “Originally it was going to be one record but it kept growing. All of the songs on both records are intentionally tied together; some of it is in the iconography, like the images of a river, water, and the notion of being carried along, as metaphors for the journey of life,” David says, referencing the existentially themed ties between the songs “The Turns,” “If” and the closing track “Unending (Underture).”

From little touches like the liquid, melodic, George Harrison-esque slide guitar on “Us” to major, album-spanning elements like the gorgeous casting of Maria Neckam as female counter vocalist (according to David, “The only voices on both records are those of Maria and myself, which was important to the underlying concepts of relationship and intimate connection”) and the power-and-taste-laden lead guitar-ing of longtime studio and band mate Robbie “Seahag” Mangano, evidence an attention to dramatic detail way beyond well-played studio proficiency. Repeated listens also reveal sonic treasures like an ethereally emotive pedal steel on “Outside,” subtly dark violin on “Unending,” and gritty, pulsing Wurlitzer on “Adrift.” This thoughtful tapestry of instrumentation and production imbues the album with a theatrical moodiness that evokes the vinyl transcendence of classic Pink Floyd and Grateful Dead.

David has an M.F.A. in film and video from Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute and holds a bachelor’s degree in art history from the University of Michigan. This strong affinity for the visual media informs his sonic scene setting, and he has completed a tireless campaign to authentically express the album he pictured in his mind’s eye. Despite being an indie musician with a tight budget he let nothing get in the way of the album’s expressively panoramic visage. “The vision was large and lush; I was trying to replicate a lot of feelings. It came to represent growth itself, not just the end of a relationship. It became a metaphor and conduit for everything I was feeling in my inner life, and I put everything into it,” he explains. “I indulged myself to get everything the way I wanted; the art of it became the only thing that mattered.”

David started off as a guitarist poring over the spidery melodicism of Jerry Garcia and the classic rock exoticism of Jimmy Page. “I learned to play guitar by ear training. In middle school I would rewind and dissect Zeppelin songs start to finish and eventually began improvising over them. Over time I also got a feel for the overall sounds of individual records and became aware of the producer’s role in shaping an album. Individual producers became as influential to me as artists,” he says, citing favorite sonic auteurs like Daniel Lanois, Jeff Lynne, Nigel Godrich, Brian Eno, Rick Rubin, Phil Spector, and Jimmy Miller.

The rock album as a whole became David’s obsession, and this growing desire to explore and ingest records in their entirety naturally sparked big-picture creative conceptualizing, and paralleled his own first attempts at writing songs. “For me, listening is just the other end of the same muscle used for songwriting, producing, and arranging. I would listen compulsively to every sound on a record, each and every element, and all of the intricate ways in which the parts would work together and play off each other. I fell in love with lush, beautifully recorded albums. Although unbeknownst to me at the time, this hyper-active listening from a young age is the basis of all of my skills as a producer, all of which I would end up using on my own records.” David reveals: “I’ll start with a demo of only acoustic and vocals and then gradually imagine every detail: harmonies, percussion, bass tones, keyboard sounds, effects. ‘Do I want this washy or to cut through?’… I love listening to instrumentation and arrangement, it gets me off.”

Beck’s Sea Change was the landmark album that sparked the initial decision to record The Long Lost Story, and while that album is also a deeply emotional break up record, what resonated with David most was its overall aesthetic. “It was the impetus to do my own concept record. I loved everything about it, even the artwork—the feeling of the music was consistent with the content. At the time, our band manager lived with me, and we shared a wall, and he’d hear me play it every single night before I went to bed. He’d say ‘Can’t you listen to anything else!’ I listened to it every single day, start to finish, for at least 3 months. But I’ve always been obsessed with whole albums, Tom Petty’s Damn The Torpedoes, Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main St., Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks… I got really into the arrangements and the nuances of Sea Change, and its overall sound, which was (producer) Nigel Godrich, who I completely knew and loved from (Radiohead’s) Ok Computer. And Beck, of course.”

When David began writing the music that would become The Long Lost Story he was in a band called Readymaker that was actively gigging in New York and was starting to grow a healthy fan base; David shared songwriting duties with the band’s keyboard player and the band was creatively democratic. But it didn’t feel like the right way to approach this growing batch of songs. “While I greatly respected and loved everyone in that band, I didn’t want to bring in this body of work because I didn’t want it to change, it was so personal and it was all I was going to be writing. So I just started working to pay for studio time, and it completely took over,” he explains.

Readymaker featured David’s twin brother Jeremy on drums; Jeremy also ended up drumming on The Long Lost Story. The two have a deeply sympathetic relationship, and in terms of their mutual creativity, David describes them as “artistic teammates.” Jeremy, in addition to being an ace drummer, is an accomplished visual artist in the realms of animation, illustration, and sculpture. The two come from artistically supportive parents. Their mother was a pianist, guitarist, and singer with a love for folk music, classical music and the crooning sounds of 1940s and 1950s popular songs, and a definite distaste for rock music. Though she never let her biases inhibit David and Jeremy’s explorations of rock music, 1980s Top 40 was not played at home when they were children.

“Since I never heard rock music in the house, it felt like it was off limits. Every once in awhile it would come on the car radio or something and it was like when you’re with your parents and you see nudity in a theater,” David says with a little laugh. “I remember Thriller and ‘Beat It,’ with that guitar riff and Van Halen’s solo…Springsteen, Madonna, U2, and popular 1980s music culture in general. Our close neighbors had an older sister and she would babysit us. I would go over there and she was into U2 and Guns N’ Roses; she had the posters on her walls and MTV was on all of the time. I thought it was so cool.”

Adolescence often provides the palette and paintbrush to create our masterpieces. David’s lifelong awe of popular music and his insatiable urge to absorb and create it as an art form has a purity that makes The Long Lost Story an affecting and sincere album experience. David wrote it, recorded it, and literally put everything he had into it for years because he needed to; he had no choice but to take this journey and learn all of its lessons, no matter the costs. “I recently sent the full record to a friend and she said to me ‘it’s the universal experience of love’; that was great to hear. That’s the kind of thing you’d hope for,” David says. “First love is so intense—you forget who you are—and the end can be shattering. The idealism and loss is sort of a rite of passage, a loss of innocence that becomes the gateway into the adult world. Then you search for meaning.”

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