Local musician Garrett Randolph is reaching a new crossroads in his music career this fall after releasing his first full-length studio album last Friday. The album, “Badlands: Concerning Postcards and Portraits of the American Dream,” aims to shine light on the country’s forgotten heroes.
“There is this constant theme of love lost, and the forgotten veterans and the Dust Bowl faces,” Randolph said. “The postcards you were trying to send your lover but never made it there.”
He will celebrate his first, full body of musical work with a release party 6-7:30 p.m. Thursday in the Grizzly Hall room of the Park County Library, where he will sign autographs and play live.
Songs from pages
Randolph is a singer and guitarist who focuses on narrative storytelling and poetic lyrics, finding inspiration most notably from the music of Bob Dylan. He does not shy away from the fact that more than half the album was recorded over a span of three years in settings like his apartment, bedrooms and a garage, emblematic of the gritty, blue collar feeling he is trying to get across.
In addition, three songs on “Badlands” are instrumentals without any lyrics, composed by Randolph for the sole purpose of adding an extra layer of background to the story.
“Trying to just paint a picture of American heroes and the people who really made our country great,” he said. “Blue collar people that really built our country.”
Running about 55 minutes long with 15 tracks, Randolph takes his listeners on an eclectic journey that includes fictional characters, experiences he’s shared with other people and anecdotes from his own life; all of which playing a part in the sound track that is Americana.
“Badlands” also reflects on his love for history with references to the gold rush, Civil War and Revolutionary War, as heard in the song “Charleston,” named after the West Virginia city where frontiersman Daniel Boone lived.
“People were so entrenched in their beliefs that they would literally fight against their brother or their dad,” Randolph said.
Demons become inspiration
After struggling with opioid addiction in recent years Randolph attended a drug rehabilitation center in San Antonio, Texas. He has now been sober for more than a year.
“It takes time to build and get back in the groove,” he said.
A woman Randolph met while in rehab serves as inspiration for the song “Washington.” That woman who is mother to a young daughter, left the facility in the middle of one night to keep chasing her addiction, a move that deeply depressed him and other fellow patients.
“I wrote (the song) instantly that day after she left,” Randolph said. “I played that song for everybody that day- you could hear a pin drop.”
With politics seemingly more divided than ever in our country, Randolph wants his ballads to inspire people to find common ground with their neighbors.
“Just be able to relate and sympathize with other people that might be going through the same internal struggles you’re going through,” Randolph said. “Especially in a time like this, it’s really hard for me not to speak out. I think we’re so divided as a nation almost, it’s kind of like the Civil War without blood.”
Six songs off the album were produced in studios at Northwest College, where Randolph got engineering assistance from Thai foreign exchange student Chinook Nitanon, 18. After working with students in Associate Professor of Music Robert Rumbolz’s class, Randolph instantly found a connection with the way Nitanon mixed one of his songs and also found they share a similar appreciation for film and music that helped shape the outline of Badlands.
“He just kind of gets the sound, language I’m going for,” he said.
The rest of the album was produced by his brother Preston Randolph and his lifelong friend and fellow musician Brian Mandella, who lives in Oregon, but Randolph communicated with almost daily during the creation of the album. Mandella will take a Greyhound bus to get to Cody so he can back up Randolph with guitar and vocals at the release party.
All but one song on the album has never been publicly released. That song, “One More Night” came out last summer with a music video that won a Muse Creative Award for his song-video combination.
“It’s kind of my first accolade,” Randolph said.
Randolph said he has plans on the way for more videos but for now is focused on sharing with the world’s ears what he has created.
“Badlands” is now available on iTunes and Spotify. He will be selling hard copy CDs at the release party. For more information visit garrettrandolphmusic.com.