Three years since his last album, Pittsburgh's Brad Yoder is back with "Excellent Trouble," an album filled with beautifully recorded acoustic-based songs united by his honesty and vivid way with words.
The singer-songwriter agreed to talk about some of the standouts on the record:
"Excellent Trouble": I received an online 'Friend Request,' from someone I didn't recognize. I found out later she knew me from a summer camp I had worked at in the '90s. I was trying to figure out if I knew this person, and there was a picture on her Myspace site which was of her and a female friend, arm-in-arm at a bar, having what appeared to be a good time. The caption to that photo was 'Trouble found us that night, but it was excellent trouble.' As soon as I read that, I thought 'that's really good -- I should write a song called "excellent trouble." "So, that led to the writing of the song. 'Excellent Trouble' seemed like a good way to summarize the record ('It's just that it's all so unbearably beautiful')."
"Leave Like This": "This song is as one-to-one as I ever write. My friend Lee took his life in May of 2007, after decades of struggling with bipolar disorder. He was a stunningly gifted and beautiful human, and I and many others miss him a great deal. Again, you tell the truth as clearly as you can, because you need to tell the truth for your own sanity, and because you know it's your job to tell that truth, for yourself and for everyone else who's feeling what you're feeling. I needed this song, so I wrote it. But it [was terrible] to do so."
"I'm So Glad You're Over Me"/"Lovely Trap": "I had a year (2006, approximately), where a lot of people I knew got divorced. So, without actually going through a breakup myself, I wrote three breakup/divorce songs, two of which ended up on this album. I'm not sure about the ethics of 'borrowing' other people's life trauma, but we use what we find."
"Keep It to Yourself": "I just wanted to write a song that stood up for my gay and lesbian friends. I looked back and think of how crappy high school, college, church, etc., was for some of them much of the time. I think a good song tells the truth in a strong way, and that's what I tried to do. It also contains one of my favorite non-rhyming lines: 'Suffered through the prom dress/suffered through the slow dance/wishing she could slow dance with someone in a prom dress ...' That one makes me happy, in a lyric geek way."
"How It Ends": I love the beauty of things falling apart, and this started as a sung sketch of a lot of roadside industrial decay. It's mind-blowing to think that every broken-down place was once near the center of someone's life. I grew up the son of a Mennonite pastor, and experienced a lot of 'church.' Here's something positive about that: 'church,' at its best, proclaims that there is something sacred woven into the fabric of our everyday lives, something that deserves to be sung and celebrated. This song is a kind of 'hymn for broken down places.' "
The CD release show will be 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Church of the Redeemer in Squirrel Hill, 5700 Forbes Ave. It will be all-ages, with complimentary food and beverages. Tickets are $15; $10 for students; children 12 and under free. Go to www.bradyoder.com