“Bryan’s Song” by Jessica Labus is the 14th song in The FIRST Alive with Clive Top 20.
Jessica appeared on Alive with Clive on March 9, 2007, and on February 27, 2007, for two shows, and performed “Bryan’s Song,” from her debut CD, Mirrors, during her first interview on Alive with Clive on March 9, 2007.
Here is a picture of me with Jessica that was taken at the TV studio after her interview on Alive with Clive on March 9, 2007:
This is what you will discover about Jessica from her Bio on her MySpace page at www.myspace.com/jessicalabus:
In a musical landscape that’s grown exponentially hostile to artists of substance, Jessica Labus is the newest singer/songwriter to join a fray of musicians with a love of art, a folk-pop spirit, and an honest, no-nonsense disposition.
All of these qualities converge on her striking debut, the entirely self-penned Mirrors, an opus of storytelling that reveals a reality about the human condition – it could be her own, a past lover’s, a family member’s, even that of someone she just met.
Jessica can’t help it. She’s too honest to sugarcoat things, too forthright to lace her artistry with softballs or pat answers. She likes to call it as she sees it.
“Things stand out to different people,” Jessica says. “When you experience something that’s really true and real and honest, whether it’s a visual act or musical, it just attracts the soul.”
The songs on Mirrors attract the soul. The product of a tunesmith wise beyond her years, each composition is a look into Jessica’s almost analytical way of communicating truth, warts and all – truth that hurts, truth that sets people free.
Born in Florida but raised in the New York towns of Niagara Falls and Grand Island, Jessica didn’t let her small-town upbringing stop her. She’s been singing since she was 3, taught herself to yodel at age 11, learned to play guitar and played in a country band at 14, and used every chance she got to absorb the sights and sounds of music, developing a passion for musical theatre at an early age through classics like Annie and Chicago.
The school years for the small town girl with big dreams were restless ones. “I went to 10 different schools,” Jessica says of her youth. “Every time I’d go to a different school I’d sing for everybody. That’s how I made friends.”
For their part, her parents tried the best they could to guide their daughter’s creative spirit, but deep down, Jessica knew that singing in her school’s choir could only take her so far. She needed an action plan quick.
As soon as she was old enough to drive, and after a brief respite in Connecticut and Rhode Island, Jessica packed her bags and moved to New York City. There, the aspiring artist earned money by playing music in the subway and later attended the prestigious American Musical & Dramatic Academy, where she studied musical theater.
The academic footing opened the door for Jessica to try her hand at a series of dramatic opportunities, including appearing in commercials, getting a taste of off-Broadway, and even landing a role in a small independent film.
All along, though, Jessica wanted more. Discontent with trying to fit into someone else’s script, she resolved to write her own by becoming a singer/songwriter. Inspired by the women that graced the stage of the iconic Lilith Fair tour in the 1990s – the likes of Ani DiFranco, Alanis Morissette, Sarah McLachlan, and Joan Osborne, among others – she picked up the guitar and started writing songs. She never looked back.
Her very first song, the arresting “Bryan’s Song,” would become a harbinger for her unapologetic, tell-all songwriting style. Such transparency has already propelled Jessica to play at some of the most venerable venues in New York City, including Crash Mansion, The Bitter End, Kenny’s Castaways, Arlene’s Grocery, and The National Underground.
As for “Bryan’s Song,” the tune is a cornerstone of the 10-song Mirrors – a brutally honest dialog where the singer has a one-on-one with her brother about some of the demons that are plaguing his life. “When I showed him the song, he was kind of like, ‘Oh…’” Jessica says. “He didn’t love it. People never seem to love the songs I write about them. They like other songs, but they never really like the songs about them.”
A similar sense of honesty runs through the title track, a song Jessica says was informed by an affair her best friend had with a married teacher while in acting school. The song builds from tender acoustic verses to an explosive folk-rock refrain, calling to mind the best of Jewel’s career-defining Pieces of You album.
If Beyoncé’s “Irreplaceable” had a singer/songwriter companion, it would be the breakup paean “Who?” a song with a playful bass-and-guitar shuffle and a driving rhythm that stands in stark contrast to Jessica’s vivid description of a former relationship gone south. “That’s a funny song about getting out of a horrible relationship,” Jessica says. “I wrote it to embarrass the person.”
Elsewhere, in songs like “With or Without Me” and “Anything from You,” Jessica once again picks up the theme of relationship, this time laying out in the open the flurry of emotions brought on by the absence of a former romantic interest.
“The time we spent in love is never wasted, never wasted, no /We give and we get and then we have to let it go/ Sometimes we have to let it go,” Jessica sings in the sunny “Time Spent,” a song where she concedes to a past lover that the lessons learned aren’t to be lamented, but cherished.
The biggest lesson of them all is chronicled in the show-stopping closer, “Watching Over Me,” a peaceful ode Jessica wrote for her late grandmother, whom she eulogized when she sang “Amazing Grace” at her funeral. “She was a humble, strong lady,” Jessica recalls. “She taught me how to give and how to let go.”
This ability to move beyond past circumstances lies at the crux of the nearly autobiographical Mirrors. After all, that’s exactly what mirrors are for: they exist not to make one bitter, but better.
“I want people to analyze themselves more,” Jessica says. “Relationships are a way to see yourself. It’s good to know that someone else has gone through the same things that you’ve gone through.”
She continues, “You have to grow up the hard way. You have to go through life and learn your lessons. That’s my advice. There’s no escaping it.”
Jessica was one of the three members of The FIRST Alive with Clive Top 20 – together with Serotonen and The Melillo Brothers – to perform at The FIRST Alive with Clive Top 20 Concert, which was held on May 30, 2009, at Waltz-Astoria, in Astoria, New York, and has also performed with Kylie Edmond and other singer/songwriters who’ve been interviewed on Alive with Clive in some of the concerts in the series called Girls Rock The Night!
In the Blog post I wrote about “Signs” by Irena Hart, Song # 3 in The FIRST Alive with Clive Top 20, which you’ll see when you click here, there’s a quote from Oprah Winfrey about how if you don’t get messages the universe is attempting to send you in the whisper, the shout or when a brick falls on your head, you get them in the worst possible way – when the walls fall down on you. “Bryan’s Song” is a song about dealing with life after the walls have fallen down on you. How do you make sense of the heartache and hardship? How do you regain your strength? How do you overcome the “fear and dread” to rebuild your life?
To give you an inkling of the depth of wisdom within the song and the answers to these questions, here’s the chorus from “Bryan’s Song”:
Sometimes you have to feel the pain
To be guided to where your strength remains
Don’t hide it inside you let it change
And you’ll be guided to what your heart is saying
And here’s the bridge:
Let it out and let me in
Give it up but don’t give in
Catch your breath and close your eyes
Know you have the strength inside
I have found “Bryan’s Song” to be particularly inspiring, and I’m sure you will too!
Here’s the video clip for you to enjoy of Jessica Labus singing “Bryan’s Song” on Alive with Clive:
Video clips of Jessica singing “California,” With or Without Me,” “Mirrors,” “Watching Over Me,” and “Flying Elephants” are also available for you to see on The Alive with Clive TV Channel on YouTube, which you’ll find when click here.
You can learn more about Jessica and hear a few of her other songs at www.myspace.com/jessicalabus.
Jessica is currently in 17th place in The Alive with Clive Top 20. To vote for Jessica to move into the top spot in The Alive with Clive Top 20, click here.
To see who else is in The Alive with Clive Top 20, click here.
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