Photos by Reji B. | rejibphotography.com
Singer, songwriter, composer, flautist: Philadelphia’s Brielle has a lot going on. In the same way that she plays a multifaceted role in making music, her sound is equally tricky to pin down. It’s got roots in R&B, but there is an undeniable experimental / psychedelic sheen on her 2014 EP The Rough Break-up. She raps verses and brings in guest MCs like fellow Philadelphian Thelonius, but calling it hip-hop isn’t entirely correct. When she plays live, her backing band – which, for this week’s Key Studio Session, was nine pieces – moves deftly between slick and smooth soul to amped-up funk rock. And then there are the bits of jazz that get folded in: trippy Bitches Brew-esque sax, emphatic trumpet and Brielle’s own breathtaking flute melodies.
In short: her’s is a heady, engrossing sonic blend, and hearing its growth from her initial recordings has been a treat. The Rough Break-up got its name from more than the lyrical content. Yeah, it’s an album about the aftermath of love and the introspection and personal ruminations that pop up as a result. But there’s another side to the name as well. Brielle began working on the EP with a co-producer while they were romantically involved, and continued working with him after their split. She tells me it’s the only time she’s ever dated a musician, and takes it as a hard-learned lesson: when it reached a point that the project became too emotionally difficult, her ex stormed off and deleted all of the finalized recordings. Brielle was left with the rough mixes and, pleased enough with how they sounded (read: awesome), she released them on Bandcamp – making them rough recordings of songs about a rough break-up.
Today, she finds herself in a more positive state of mind – she’s a mom, she’s an activist in her North Philly community and she has a budding music career. This Saturday night, Brielle and her band will perform at the final installment of The Key’s Fireside Sessions at the Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest. The show is free and begins at 8 p.m.; more information can be found here. (Joining them on the bill is dream-folk duo Paper Hearts; check out their Key Studio Session here.)
Below, give a listen to five songs Brielle and her band recorded live in our studio and download the set on Soundcloud.
Brielle, The Key Studio Sessions