Great songwriters create community through the shared experience of their art, adding a boost of energy to live performances. Brandon Decker (known better as decker.) has emerged from the incredibly talented Arizona music scene as one of this global generation’s voices of sanity. On his new live release Greetings All Ye Playful Prisoners of Spacetime, decker invites us all to dance in the moonlight–getting global by looking local.
From Danny Torgensen’s (Captain Squeegee) opening trumpet call, this is an invitation into this troubadour’s haven. Joining Brandon Decker are his band’ pianist Amber Johnson, bassist Andrew Bates, back up vocalist Dante LoPresti and Chelsea Coleman, drummer Joel Knight, and guitarist Meliza Jackson. Jackson’s beastly guitar exploits seemed superhuman even before hearing she’d been at the ER earlier in the day. (What?!)
There are remnants of Sedona’s red rock mystery captured in the essence of this eighteen-track live recording at Phoenix, Arizona’s premier music venue Last Exit Live. Brannon Kleinlein, the owner of Last Exit Live, has shared his love of and commitment to Arizona music through ever-expanding possibilities for live recording. He and his staff, led by sound and recording engineer Brian Stubblefield, are able to offer musicians wanting to create a live album an incredible experience in a venue such as this.
This is a deep dive into the decker catalog, from his take on the Stooges’ “I Wanna Be Your Dog” to many of my personal favorites from the album Born to Wake Up. Covering an extensive mix of Decker’s career, the essence of this sizable collection is the homey feeling that is captured. “Down By the Water” and its tribal drums helped ground my spirit as it will for listeners around the world. Home really is a feeling, and “Famous Blue Raincoat” and “Mexico” are two songs that have a connection to Decker’s son Cohen. Each is hauntingly beautiful and memorable in simplistic beauty. It’s not all warm and cozy, though. Hollow, haunting chords ooze with fear and distress in the horror of “State Trooper.”
The standout tracks on the album are definitely “The Garden” and “Breakout,” which both tap into the full depth of metaphor in conjunction with the stellar vocal range of this man whose birthday it was the night of recording. Ultimately, Greetings is a masterclass in musicianship. Decker assembled the absolutely perfect group of people in his home base to make music for the universe.
Greetings All Ye Playful Prisoners of Spacetime is out October 25 via Royal Potato Family. —Lisa Whealy