Last month, Charleston recording project Why Zebra? released a little self-titled record that was several years in the making. It all started back in 2011, when Charleston musician, executive producer, and Bill Wilson advocate Brian Compton was living in San Francisco. He was introduced to songwriter Brianne Crawford through an LA-based band that he was working with at the time, and upon moving to New York in 2013, the two linked up to write some music together.
Over the course of about six months, Brian and Brianne wrote a collection of songs, but they were mostly just sketches and demos at the time. Brianne performed a few of them at the Rockwood Music Hall’s 1×5 Showcase in 2014, but mostly the songs were left sitting in a notebook. The two stopped writing together when Brian moved to Charleston, but they did keep in contact over the years.
In 2017, Compton met Matt Zutell and Aaron Utterback, both of Human Resources, and started to work with them on various musical projects around town, including Bill Wilson’s album Stand Up!. Brian mentioned the songs that he had written with Brianne, and eventually the assembled a band to record the tunes at Zutell’s downtown recording studio, Coast Records.
Why Zebra? was recorded in three days with a band that included Brianne Crawford on vocals, Jonathan Lovett (Terraphonics) on keys, Christian Chidester (Brave Baby, Crab Claw) on guitar, Aaron Utterback on bass, and Matt Zutell on drums. Bill Wilson contributed vocals for track 7, “Work for What You Got” (a standout).
The album is arranged like a vinyl record, with different moods for the front and back half. The first half of Why Zebra? is slower, more moody and focused. The second half is a bit more upbeat, more fun, and less focused, and includes what Compton calls the “artistic centerpiece of the album”, a song called “The Storm”. It’s the one song on Why Zebra? that Brianne wrote solo. Recorded early in the morning, it serves to showcase both Brianne’s songwriting and the atmosphere that each personality contributed to the project.
Listen to Why Zebra? below.Follow @extrachill on Instagram!