August 24, 2019.
Before he was one of the biggest stars in the country genre, the former Navy member, Zach Bryan, took his friends to Florida and produced a 12-song, fully independent project titled DeAnn. To say the rest is history is an understatement.
DeAnn was famously recorded in an Airbnb in Jacksonville, Florida. With absolutely no experience recording music, Bryan and Co. marched into the said Airbnb, stood mattresses up against the walls to absorb sound and created something completely raw and refreshing. In an interview with Saving Country Music, he described his hesitation to record the album without any prior experience:
“I looked at my buddy and said, ‘Man, I don’t know if this will be worth it without a band and full tracks. We really don’t have any idea what we’re doing. And my buddy was like, ‘We’re doing this. Because I’ve heard the songs, and I know people will enjoy them.’ I didn’t believe him, honestly. I wasn’t going to do it. My friends talked me into it, and I owe them that. So we did it, and we had no idea what we were doing. We just uploaded them to one of those distribution sites, and here we are.”
The recording of DeAnn was prompted mainly due to the success of Condemned, which was released less than three weeks prior. The iconic video of Bryan, beat-red and sweating, took off on social media with many praising the rawness of his lyrics and vocals.
Another standout track that remains a staple in Bryan’s setlist to this day is Godspeed. The song is ultimately a reflection of how Bryan views the world and a reflection of his self-proclaimed old soul. In an interview with Stony Jammer, he described the song,
“I’ve been to church with my mom and things like that, I’ve been to Africa and sent postcards from places you couldn’t even believe. That song means so much to me man, cause that’s how I feel, if I am down in my deepest poor, that’s just how I feel.”
Commercially, DeAnn was a resounding success for Bryan and simply cannot be understated. The completely independently produced album spawned three singles (Letting Someone Go, Condemned and God Speed) that would eventually be certified gold by the RIAA. Judging by Bryan’s current mammoth streaming numbers, these songs will certainly receive platinum certifications in the coming months.
It’s safe to say that the album that started it all for the Something in the Orange singer will go down as one of the all-time classics in the independent country scene. From the delicate Snow to the romping Flying or Crying, DeAnn feels like a once-in-a-lifetime album. The raw story-telling, the simplicity of the chord progressions and the sloppiness of the production all combine to make DeAnn feel authentic. It’s a true peek behind the curtain of what makes Bryan unique and ultimately a tribute to his late mother, DeAnn Bryan, who passed away in 2016.
Listen to God Speed, Letting Someone Go and Sweet DeAnn here: