While RANDALL BRAMBLETT may not be a household name, he is legendary within music circles for his songwriting and musicianship. He released a pair of acclaimed solo albums in the mid-‘70s, then joined the jazz-rock outfit Sea Level, becoming their principal songwriter and vocalist. From there, Bramblett embarked on a path as a big-league, musical utility man (primarily sax and keys) and landed on the speed dial of some of the greatest names in rock history, including Traffic, Steve Winwood, Levon Helm and Bonnie Raitt.
Along the way, although he did not resume his solo recording career, he continued to perform live with The Randall Bramblett Band. Then around the turn of the new millennium, he refocused on his recording career and signed a contract with New West Records. Now It‘s Tomorrow, his fourth for the label, represents an artistic peak in his long and stellar career.
Compared to his last album, Now It‘s Tomorrow is more of a straight-up rock record with a bigger, funkier sound. “On the previous one [Rich Someday], we went into it thinking we wanted to make a more organic, trashy sounding record, a real back-porch kind of record,” he says. “We picked some songs that had a little more of an Americana feel—kind of bluesy, country, rootsy.
“This record is really energetic with some Beatles, psychedelic, and some Indian influences. We spent more time on production than we had on any of my previous records.”
It may have been a tough album to make, but that sometimes is the mark of great art. And Now It‘s Tomorrow is arguably the strongest artistic statement of Bramblett‘s life, full of memorable songs and musical performances. His own instrumental prowess provides plenty of examples of the saxophone and keyboard chops for which he is renowned.
Bramblett “grew up playing soul music” in Jesup, Ga. His hero was James Brown, but he also had a lot of Ray Charles and some jazz influences. Those influences are evident throughout the eleven cuts that make up the new record, along with the aforementioned Beatles and psychedelic elements.
Growing up in Southeast Georgia, nature loomed large in his life, particularly the swamps around the Altamaha River. To Bramblett, the swamps represented something mystical, filling him with wonder and awe, while fueling his interest in his own spirituality.
After high school, Bramblett studied religion and psychology at the University of North Carolina, and for most of his time there, he planned to attend a seminary upon graduation. But by his senior year, inspired by the likes of James Taylor and Carole King, he began to try his hand at songwriting. The results were good enough for him to abandon his seminary plans after graduation and move to Athens, Ga. to further pursue music.
Another major influence on Bramblett‘s songwriting was Bob Dylan and he attributes rock‘s poet laureate with opening a new lyrical path for him. “I think he freed songwriters from feeling obliged to make strict literal sense. He expanded the boundaries of popular songs and that probably gave me permission to explore that, too.”