“I believe artists create themselves, and that an artist’s work is a byproduct of living an interesting life,” says musician, and photographer D. Anson Brody.
The Fort Worth-based singer-songwriter-virtuosic-guitarist has emerged from a painfully complex path involving a near-death experience, loss, and career burnout to triumphantly return creatively reborn and spiritually reinvigorated. He announces his return with a bold self-titled album, and through furthering his photography.
D. Anson’s aesthetic encompasses the dazzling acoustic guitar chops of the Candy Rat Records crew, the intrepid folk explorations of the freak folk scene, and the bold vulnerability and reflectiveness of the singer-songwriter milieu. The organizing factor in his work is serving-the-song artistic sensitivity and capturing emotional authenticity.
D. Anson is an explosive live performer with a magnetizing and enigmatic charm. Live, and on record, D. Anson employs an intimidating array of instruments to the unlock the dynamic emotionality of his music. He’s garnered rave reviews and features in the Dallas Observer, Fort Worth Weekly, DFW.com, and in the Star Telegram.
Around the clock, the dual-branded artist is immersed in creative pursuits. By day, he writes songs, hones his chops, and makes photography edits from the night before. By night, he’s either performing live, or multitasking mixing, recording, and shooting bands at the same time.
D. Anson’s touring history includes extensive routes through the Midwest and Southeast U.S.. He once undertook a tour on foot that spanned over 1,000 miles, from California to Kansas. D. Anson has shared stages with acts as diverse as Guy Forsyth, Monte Montgomery, Tantric, and Days of the New.
D. Anson’s photography has a signature aesthetic of capturing an immediacy through tones. His work exudes a moodiness, angst, and a quality of outsiderness. “I want the images to pop and feel experiential without being alienating,” D. Anson reveals.
“I’m obsessed with creative endeavors, and supporting the creative community” he shares. “Having multiple interests now helps me avoid burnout because I can always refresh myself by concentrating on a different medium.” Other D. Anson interests include writing poetry, show production, and building unique instruments to bring to life the tonalities he envisions for his music.
D. Anson was born in South Bend, Indiana, and was classically trained on upright bass from a very young age. At 10, he had an indelibly formative experience when a punk band came to his school to talk about their life in music. The band’s commitment to living an uncompromising life in the arts shaped D. Anson, and its impact is reverberated in the track, “Still Believe,” off his debut album. Through a series of twists and turns, D. Anson is finally living the life he desired as a kid.
A crucial entry in his artistic continuum includes abandoning a lucrative sideman/bassist career after attending Victor Wooten’s famed “WootCamp” in 2007. For D. Anson, Victor’s fearless individualism lit the way to a whole new path as musician. Another turning point took place when D. Anson was a salesperson at a guitar store. One day, while demoing an acoustic guitar for a customer, he began applying bass-centric techniques like popping and slapping. A fellow salesman took him aside and told him one can’t play guitar like that. That challenge shaped D. Anson. From there, he explored these “forbidden” techniques on 9-string guitars, baritone guitars, standard acoustic and electric guitars, and homemade instruments. His approach includes a mix of quick strum flourishes, fingerstyle playing , and some of the breakthrough techniques of bass masters such as Stanley Clarke, Marcus Miller, and Victor Wooten.
After these transformative events, D. Anson became a full-on touring artist. However, after a series of challenging moments, he found himself homeless and living in his car. Later, with only his guitar and a quilt his mom knitted, he broke into a warehouse and squatted. While in the dank building, he almost died from pneumonia, and, after three agonizing days, came to peace with death. By day four, however, his attitude had changed, and with no health insurance, he obtained antibiotics used for horses to nurse himself back to health. Shortly after his recovery, a family helped get D. Anson get back on his feet, and a friend introduced him to photography.
D. Anson took it from there, nurturing a budding career as a photographer, and slowly making his way back to music. By the end of December 2016, D. Anson had a clutch of newly penned songs to put next to a few old standbys. He had literally rebuilt his life from nothing.
His latest album explores themes of death and rebirth. It also explores the uplifting themes of achieving childhood dreams, and persevering over pain and loss. Deliberately an intimate and spare recording—voice paired with stringed accompaniment—D Anson employs a bevy of instruments to keep things fresh like electric guitar, acoustic guitar, baritone guitar, electric ukulele, and 9-string guitar. He also uses ear-catching techniques like haunting altered tunings, chorded bass passages, and a multi-fingered strumming patterns. Self-titling his release has important significance for D. Anson. “The gesture says ‘this is me’. It’s more me than anything I’ve done,” he says.
The 10-track album courses through raw emotionality, self-revelation, instrumental virtuosity, winsome and reflective folk balladry, and percussive-driven hooky compositions. Standouts include “Start Again,” “Fire Breather,’ and “I’ve Got It Bad.” “Start Again” is a tour de force of that melds dexterous guitar work with impassioned vocals and powerfully emotional lyrics. It’s a song written years ago as a response to D. Anson’s co-worker at the guitar store showcasing that he can play the guitar any way he wants. The quietly beautiful “Fire Breather” has an impressionistic flair, boasting touches of jazz harmonic sophistication, and a modicum of Latin and Flamenco flourishes. The elegant melancholy of “I’ve Got It Bad” resets the palette with sweetly sorrowful chiming electric guitar and rich vocals that exhibit a pleading soulfulness.
Up next, D. Anson will remain active in all his various creative guises. Reflecting on his path to his self-titled debut, he says: “I just want to love what I do, and feel like I am upholding the dream I’ve had since I was 10 when I encountered that punk rock band at school. It’s a lot of work keeping everything going, but I take pride in it.”