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Boston native and freedom seeking singer-songwriter Bryan McPherson sought out refuge in Emigrant, a small town on the edge of Yellowstone to settle down in order to free his mind and conscience of the shackled idealisms of the modern world. It was in this small town that Bryan wrote his latest album ‘Emigrant and the Winter of Death’.

The introduction to the album is the aptly named “Emigrant”. There’s reflection on a compulsion to move on from where one has been to where one is going. The realisation of solitude, and being somewhere new and that sometimes loneliness is all that is needed in life without the unnecessary noises blocking your clarity of thought. The welcome song of a solitary cow, the only background noise apart from the mind of yourself. It is easy to transport yourself to this place. I found my own thoughts being surrounded by snow capped mountains, and obviously a cow, alone, in a field in the distance calling out for an unknown cause.

The scene now set, Bryan McPherson quickly snaps back to the realism that mistakes are hard to learn from on a larger than personal level. “Circle Road” calls out human greed with a level of constant hopelessness and disappointment. Atrocities of the past are compared with monstrosities happening around us all today, with the only evolution that seems to be happening to the human race being the ease through technological advances of the modern world enabling said atrocities to be done with less difficulty. Be it the rich becoming richer with the poor becoming poorer, or drones dropping bombs in war zones. The sense of it being hopeless for us all is amplified with the words early in the song “It’s just people grasping for control, making profit off of souls”, shortly followed up by ” we’re going nowhere, on circle road”.

The album encompasses a hugely scarred soul’s perspective of the world, one of disappointment, anguish and angst, but with a fire and fighting spirit of F*** you, not today! screaming out of the speakers with “Live Free or Die”. Something inside has you nodding with hope and reassurance in time to the non conformist resonance of the song which seems to have some kind of perpetual momentum, giving you hope that all is not lost in this immersive journey we are all on.

McPherson reminds the listener of our insignificance compared to the reality of existence. “Pain in the Universe”. There is true authenticity When the chorus is harrowingly pushed through the filter of what seems to be McPherson’s real experiences. You feel the pain by proxy and it is somewhat unsettling in an enlightening four minutes and fifteen seconds (every second worth your undivided attention).

“Lilac and Gold” drew me in with layered vocals. A truly beautiful song. “Died Suddenly” seems to point fingers at the management and control of a recent pandemic the world had put upon it, with a horrifyingly accurate portrayal of the suffering endured by so many.

With some of the crispest finger picking guitar and harmonica accompaniment you are likely to hear by one man, it is clear to see and hear that Bryan McPherson has an outstanding ability to pull you into his world and see things from his perspective, whether you agree with it all or not, it is captivating. The sharp edge of his acoustic sound along with his raw vocals reflect the icy mountains and rocky landscapes that the songs were written in the midst of. So much so, you can almost feel the icy breeze as you listen to the backing vocals of “All Our Dark”, which are haunting and beautifully mesmerizing. Emigrant and the Winter of Death truly is a masterpiece of song writing, full of integrity and raw honesty. It seems quite clear that this album, every single song on it was written by the soul. A scarred and hurting, but healing soul that needs to be heard by all. “Songs of Freedom” is the last hopeful call for freedom. Freedom is there, but it may only be fleeting…for now.

By Dan Murphy for London Celtic Punks

More about Bryan McPherson 

Bryan McPherson was born and raised in Dorchester, a tough working-class neighborhood in Boston, Massachusetts. He began performing at house parties, open mics, and busking on the streets before finding a home in the Boston Punk Scene - securing notable opening slots for hometown heroes The Dropkick Murphys along with Rock and Roll legends Chuck Berry and Alice Cooper. In 2007, he collaborated with producer Hendrik Gideonse XIX and released the seminal Fourteen Stories, featuring appearances by notable musicians Woody Giessmann of the Del Fuegos, Jon Cohan, and Penny Larson. Tracks O.F.D.(Originally from Dorchester), Poor Boy, 100 Cigarettes resonated with local crowds, and Bryan was featured in The Boston Globe, The Herald, The Boston Phoenix, and Weekly Dig. 
Called westward in 2010, Bryan landed in Berkeley, California, and immediately began writing and performing around the Bay Area. He penned the notable “I See a Flag" on his second day in town and played shows with local legends Bobby Joe Ebola, The Mystic Knights of The Cobra, Jason White, and The Frustraters featuring Mike Dirnt of Green Day along with Steve Earle at Litquake in San Francisco. In 2011, Bryan was actively involved in the Occupy Wall St. movement performing extensively at Occupy Oakland alongside Amanda Palmer, Boots Riley, and Michael Moore. In 2012 Bryan released the politically charged “American Boy / American Girl” with Stateline Records. He once again received notable write-ups in The SF Bay Guardian, East Bay Express, and Huffington Post. At this time, Bryan began touring nationally full-time.  
By the time 2015 rolled around, Bryan was battle-scarred and ragged from the road after now touring internationally throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe, with prominent opening slots with the Dropkick Murphys, Blood or Whiskey, the Mahones, Tim Barry, and Cory Branan. Bryan took a much-needed break in the Sierra Foothills of Northern California, living in his friend's “Hut” while recording the brooding and atmospheric firebrand, Wedgewood. He was stoking the same angsty political embers of his last record, and Wedgewood was highly regarded and featured prominently in many national publications. 
In 2018, on a trip back home to Boston, Bryan revisited an old demo from his street performing and busker days and self-recorded and released Kings Corner. This album reflects heavily on his recovery from alcoholism and Opiate Addiction. All of the songs were written while Bryan was still in active addiction but not recorded until  15 years later while in recovery. The album was self-produced and recorded in an attic in Massachusetts. It was featured as one of the best albums of 2019 by The East Bay Express.  
2020 brought Bryan to new heights when he collaborated with Grammy Award-winning producer Ted Hutt of Old Crow Medicine Show and the Violent Femmes. Bryan hit the studio with Ted and an all-star cast of musicians featuring ex-Dropkick Murphy Marc Orell, Drummer Josh Heffernan of Dustbowl Revival, and Chris Murphy, a violinist who has played with everyone from the Waterboys to Mike Watt.
In 2021 After numerous failed attempts to collaborate with Hollywood Record labels to release “How to Draw Everything”, amongst intense pressure and stifling infringements upon his medical freedom, tyrannical mandates, and chaos in the streets of Los Angeles, Bryan packed up. He drove to Montana, self-releasing How to Draw Everything from a cabin in a town of 300 people while writing about his heartbreak and experiences in the madness of 2020 and 2021, trying to live as a free person. The result was “Emigrant and The Winter of Death” out on 1/19/2024   

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