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Aera and Honesty:
Brianna Gosse’s Debut Album a Fun and Sophisticated Treat

By Ryan Belbin

It’s been a hot summer, but Brianna Gosse might have been more on fire than most of us. The St. John’s native, and former student of MUN’s Music School, put out her first full-length album, Aera (besides her pipes, she plays the piano, ukulele, and guitar), and released it with the help of a nine piece band at the LSPU Hall. She has since then packed up her life in suitcases (and gig bags) to begin a music degree at Berklee College of Music in the fall.

A few days before leaving for Boston, she sounded surprisingly calm when we spoke.

Aera is multifaceted, to say the least. The bluesy jazzy “Fall for You,” kicks off the ten song collection, segueing into the breezy pop sounds of “Better in the Clouds” and “Good Old Fashioned Love.” The closing track, “Alright Here,” has a simple refrain and a soulful voice cutting through a raw, smokey production. Throughout the whole album, Gosse maintains a maturity and sensibility with the right amount of dips and swells, cuteness and introspective observation, undermining the fact that this is a debut album.

Gosse acknowledges that a certain amount of the album’s sound is directly attributable to producer Chris Kirby. After winning a talent contest at the 2012 Music NL Awards with Kirby as a judge, the two recorded a demo last winter and found that they worked well together. A number of tracks on Aera are co-writes, and Gosse is sure that even as she leaves the country for the foreseeable future, the two will maintain a musical and collaborative friendship.

“I saw what a lot of people were doing in the music scene in St. John’s,” Gosse recalls of her earlier days playing music. “And it’s no big secret we have a really great folk scene. I was trying to follow suit, I guess, but it never felt quite natural to me. Then I met Chris, and he asked me to play a couple of his songs, and he said, ‘You know what? I think you can sing bigger than that. Your voice sounds like you should be doing more than this folky thing.’ We started writing and working together, and that sparked this soul, jazz vibey kind of thing that I didn’t even know I liked to do.”

The biggest surprise to her was how much fun she could have with this newfound groove, and songs like “Better in the Clouds” and “Travelling Show” truly highlight that for all the sophistication, there’s a spunky willingness to craft deliciously entertaining tunes.

“We wanted to make a really honest album. There are even some flubs in some of the tracks if you listen really closely, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, because it’s real people playing real instruments.”

Honest is an apt way of describing Aera—so too is heart-on-your-sleeve.

“There’s a couple songs on the album that are really personal to me, and it’s almost weird, but in a good way—when people hear that and they relate to that, even if their situation is totally different from what I actually wrote the song about, it’s really cool that they can access that. Some people write in a diary, some people write songs.”

“This Is It”

The Travelling Show Continues 

A career in music is a major priority for Gosse. However, what form that might take, especially once she finishes her education, is something that she’s quite flexible with.

“I love every part of the music industry that I’ve experienced so far. Even if that doesn’t necessarily mean that I’ll be on a stage all the time, I really enjoy the behind-the-scenes stuff. I think producing or sound engineering and mixing—I think all of it is really, really cool to me. There’s so much you can do, and once you record the instruments, that’s just one part of it. Adjusting the levels, blending, adding different effects—there’s so much you can do with it.”

“I would definitely like to be a part of this world for as long as I can.”

Even though the album was released only a month before she left Newfoundland, Gosse has no intentions of having Aera be something to put on the shelf and be forgotten. She has tweaked the big band sounds into smaller working arrangements with the hope of touring up the eastern coast in the near future. She likewise has no plans to forget her home in the meantime.

“I’ll be returning to Newfoundland in October to attend MusicNL’s annual conference, where I hope to be lucky enough to have my album in the running for some awards. I’m hoping the same for this year’s ECMAs, which will be held in St. John’s. I definitely plan to remain active on the east coast scene and see where the album takes me from there.”

If it so happens that this talented songstress continues recording, she is the first to admit that anyone expecting Aera Part II are likely going to be surprised.

“I’m definitely going to take what I’ve already done and use that, but I really am hoping when I get down [to Berklee], to really just be able to find a sound that is totally my own. There’s a lot of different kinds of music I want to eventually try, and a lot of it is just not having access to the stuff to do it. I’d love to try more experimental stuff, pedals and weird synths and just messing around, seeing what I can come up with.”

“This isn’t the only style I like to do. I think a lot of people got the impression that ‘Oh, this is Brianna, she’s a jazz artist.’ If I were to do a second album, I think it would be something totally, totally different. Like any artist, you don’t want to be pegged too early. The kind of music that I listen to and the kind of music I record and play are pretty different. I like a lot of alternative, psychedelic rock kind of stuff, and it’s stuff I’ve always really wanted to try. I’m at a stage in my life where I’m going through a lot—I’m moving away, growing up, and I think that’s going be reflected in how I create from here on out.”

On the chorus to “Better in the Clouds,” Gosse breezes through the dreamy chorus: “I’m going up up up up, and I’m never coming down.” If making an honest album was the intention, this might be one of the most truthful moments.