On 2nd Chance, his 10th and most intimate studio album to date, Minneapolis’ Brian Leighton unflinchingly explores the emotional heft of personal tribulations. Presented with heartfelt grit, these genuine songs are sure to create an even deeper connection between Leighton and his already loyal fans; and perhaps find a new host of converts as well.
“I woke up one day and said to myself, ‘I’ve really got to turn the page here – really need to start writing a new book.’” This admission, courtesy of Brian Leighton, singer-songwriter and leader of regional mainstays GB Leighton, his widely-admired namesake band.
Leighton delves deeply into that next page in his forthcoming release, 2nd Chance – his 10th studio album, and first in five years. Despite his reputation as a rousing and unmistakably positive live performer, Leighton has seen his fair share of personal problems over the years – bouts with divorce, rehab and even cancer – and Second Chance signifies his most heartfelt effort at addressing those private issues in the most direct way he’s ever attempted.
“It’s by far my most personal record,” says Leighton, who has – in the past – spent considerable time in the co-writing chair with luminaries from Nashville and beyond. “This is the first album where every track is an original, by me alone. I wanted to stop worrying about potential hit songs and focus instead on writing about things I believe; things that are most important to me, and to which I feel most connected.”
As it turns out, despite certain worries exposing those aspects of himself, what Leighton came to discover through the songs is something he’s known all along – one of his biggest connections is to his fans.
The more Leighton came to write intimately about his own life – the more the songs evolved as he was working through things – the more he came to see how central his fans are to it all. “Sometimes it’s embarrassing airing this stuff out in the open. But I realize the extent to which everybody is thinking or feeling or going through so much of the same – how universal it all can be. The songs aren’t just about me. They’re about everyone, and what bonds us.”
In its ten tracks front to back, Second Chance runs a thematic arc beginning with heartbreak and hurt, and emerging on the side of meaning, faith and even a good dose of fun. Expertly co-produced by Patrik Tanner (also Leighton’s lead guitarist), the sound is timeless American rock-n-roll marked by equal parts grit and polish. Leighton was afforded the luxury of being able to use the studio as a creative tool, working on the songs throughout the course of over a year. “The songs got to take root and evolve – we were able to try our hand at varying arrangements and different lyrical approaches,” says Leighton. “The benefit of that really shows.”
While Leighton hopes the album is well received, his foremost priority is letting fans know how thankful he is for their support; how instrumental they’ve been in helping him get through to the other side. An enthusiastic proponent of live-music-as-therapy, Leighton declares, “one of the primary ways I work through this stuff is ‘shouting it out.’ I simply couldn’t do that if I didn’t have people still coming to see me play, year after year.”