A follow-up to last year’s incredible debut Be Kind, Brian Bourgault’s latest, Without You, explores the topics of mortality, where we came from and where we are going, as well as dealing with the demons inside. Apt material for Bourgault, who lost his father to cancer in 2018, and who struggles with a progressive neuromuscular disease which has severely handicapped his physical ability.
The basic tracks were recorded live on tape at Mighty Fine Productions in Denver with John Macy engineering, and transferred to digital, allowing Bourgault to bring the project home for editing and mixing. The album showcases Bourgault’s strong, sincere tenor vocal in the mix with B3 organ, electric piano, and slide guitar. His ’70s rock influences are apparent on the title track and on “Trouble Blues,” and “Down the Drain,” while “Enemy” and “Mercy” present a modern production and a high energy vibe that Bourgault calls “future soul.” Punchy horn parts move these tracks, and sparse vocal harmonies compliment Bourgault’s lead.
“Enemy” begins with a smooth, retro wah-wah guitar and Bourgault’s ernst vocal: “I live in a broken body, I need a bodyguard, dying must be easy, living is so hard.” “Mercy,” with a bass-heavy groove, pleads for relief in the repeating chorus: “Oh, sweet, sweet mercy, put it on me!”
In 2018 Bourgault launched his return to music following a decade-long hiatus due to health problems. A native of Vermont, he has made his home in Colorado since 1997.
Bourgault’s creations rep the decade of his birth with classic 1970’s instrumentation, riffing guitars, and a retro soul influence that is as tangible and pointed as anything the Night Sweats have put out.
With an all-star Denver cast that includes Dragondeer drummer Carl Sorensen, Coal Town Reunion’s James Dumm and Kyle Hollingsworth Band’s Dan Schwindt on guitars and Dark Star Orchestra’s Tanya Shylock, in addition to half a dozen others, the enormous ensemble has overflowing layers of massive old-school soul band style and substance. That stout foundation provides the basis for Bourgault’s honest, bittersweet and hopeful sentiment that shines through on each track.