Questions (2015) is the perfect title for David Bronson’s latest album. Throughout nearly a dozen songs, the New York-based singer-songwriter examines life in all its seasons, occasionally posing a direct question in the lyrics. “Does it give your heart a beating?”, he asks on “Task”. In the context of the song’s gripping musicality, the answer is a resounding yes. “Task” stands apart amidst Bronson’s thoroughly laudable set of original compositions. While no one mood overstays its welcome on Questions, “Task” brings a dose of acoustic funk to the mix. Producer Godfrey Diamond (Lou Reed, Etta James, Aerosmith) ensures a seamless blend among all the elements, making “Task” the album’s most essential track.
Bronson fronts a cadre of talented musicians on “Task”, including industry veterans like legendary guitarist Carlos Alomar (David Bowie, Mark Ronson), and renowned session vocalists Robin Clark (Simple Minds, CHIC) and Gordon Grody (Steely Dan, Carly Simon). Drummer Lautaro Burgos and bassist Robbie “Seahag” Mangano round out the personnel, with Diamond providing percussion and handclaps alongside Bronson, Clark, Alomar, and singer Lea Lorien. Together, they anchor “Task” with an impressive musical dynamism. Bronson and his band knew the track was exceptional even during the recording process. “From the perspective of the making of the record, I think those involved will always remember ‘Task’ as one of the definitive songs on the record,” he says. “It was the first one that Gordon Grody and the Alomars (Carlos Almoar, Robin Clark, Lea Lorien) came in for. The background arrangement that Gordon Grody came up with just floored us all, pure genius. It was a magic moment and everyone felt it. And it was also the first song on the record that Robin stepped out and did her immortal vocal improvs on. The whole thing was pure chills. That session was pivotal, without a doubt; it moved us much closer to the ultimate, distinct sound of the album.”
Since the release of Questions, Bronson has released a series of music videos for several tracks on the album. Each song is illustrated by a unique visual concept. Whereas “Song of Life” incorporated photographer Ben Goldstein’s portrait sessions, “Task” is brought to life by acclaimed illustrator Johannes Labusch. “It couldn’t have come about more naturally,” Bronson notes about the collaboration. “Johannes is an artist/illustrator and a musician—we jam around together sometimes—and the idea came up for him to try his hand at making something. He had this idea to create a paper world, and I loved it. So basically, I went on tour, came back, and he had made this entire beautiful world. He had me come over, put on those white glasses for the one shot, and it was done. I was amazed. I think he managed to create a thing of real beauty and originality.”
Indeed, Labusch has fashioned a world distinguished by captivating imagery that cleverly renders Bronson’s lyrics. “When Dave asked me to come up with a look and concept for the ‘Task’ video, I immediately made a connection between the meaning of the lyrics and my own ‘task at hand,’” Labusch explains. “I decided to play around with a look that retains the idea of sketching, of trying stuff out, of being playful and conceptual. To me, white paper is the ultimate tool and symbol for shaping ideas, be it musical or graphic or even abstract. It always seems to start with the white, empty page, so why not make the empty page the star? An avalanche of ideas started coming right away, it was the ultimate lucky accident, and I feel like we’ve still only scratched the surface.” Every frame of the “Task” video makes an indelible impression. In Labusch, Bronson has once again found a collaborator who’s translated his words and music into an unforgettable visual statement.
A musician who’s also well-versed in filmmaking, Bronson will premiere a short film at Joe’s Pub in New York on 6 July 2015 as part of Questions: An Evening with David Bronson. The film documents the making of Questions and will be followed by a live set featuring Bronson and his band. If the video for “Task” is any indication, a feast for both the ears and eyes awaits Bronson’s audience.