Book of Life
Book of Life is the debut album by Brian Blake. Produced by Walt Wilkins and Ron Flynt, and recorded in Austin, Texas, the album includes songs about Blake’s family and their roots in the Liberty, Texas, area. From start to finish, Book of Life takes listeners on a journey – one that begins in the early 20th century and winds up in the present day. The songs on the album are woven together like a collection of short stories set to music, of which the songwriter says, “I come from a long line of storytellers, and this album is my contribution to that tradition.”
Book of Life opens with “Rice Field in the Distance”, a song that chronicles Blake’s great-grandparents’ struggles to raise a large family during the Great Depression. In “Nothing Gold Can Stay”, the album’s closing track, Blake sings about the inevitable changes that come to many small towns in America and his and his family’s ever-shrinking ties to Liberty.
Also included on the album is “Move on J.D.”, a song about a Liberty-area World War II veteran who became homeless. The song garnered Blake the title of Songwriter of the Year in 2021 by the Memphis Songwriter's Association. “Move on J.D. is a song I’m very proud of, and I hope it causes people to reflect on how we can better support veterans with service-related disabilities – both seen and unseen,” Blake says.
With Wilkins and Flynt at the helm, Blake recorded Book of Life at Flynt’s Jumping Dog Studio in Austin. A number of veteran Austin-area musicians were brought to add timeless melodies and harmonies to the album. They include Chris Beall, Rich Brotherton, John Chipman, Bart de Win, Warren Hood, and Betty Soo. Wilkins and Flynt also appear on a number of tracks.
Wilkins, a widely-known Texas songwriter, troubadour, and producer, says of Blake and the album, “Book of Life is a sterling collection of songs that is earthy and immediate, where you know the characters and care about them. Brian’s gift of storytelling is true and deep, with a wry, comfortable and literary bent, and it’s been a privilege and pleasure to work with him and these songs.”
Book of Life is available on streaming platforms everywhere and also available for purchase on CD at brianblakeguitar.bandcamp.com/merch.
"Book of Life is a sterling collection of songs..." Walt Wilkins
"Every story here rings with authenticity while the music is supportive and never intrusive. We hear every one of Blake’s words and marvel at his storytelling..." Jim Hynes, Glide Magazine
"Put this one on top of the heap for great songwriters writing in relative obscurity that you need to get to know..." Melissa Clarke, Americana Highways
"Book of Life is a timeless debut album by a born storyteller..." Theo Volk, EuroAmericana Reviewer
"A once in a lifetime Americana debut.." The Rocking Magpie (UK)
"One of the finest troubadour albums...brings to mind the Texas Masters" - Fervor Coulee (Alberta)
"Book Of Life" is above all a profound act of love: towards one's family roots, small town realities and the most genuine Texan songwriting tradition... - Remo Ricaldone (Italy)
#1 Song of the Month, #2 Album of the Month, #3 Artist of the Month (Debut); Folk Alliance International "Folk DJ" Chart; November 2022
#1 Contemporary Folk Album (#2 Folk Album); Roots Music Report , January 21 - February 3, 2023
#3 Album of 2022; Americana Highways Editor Pick
#4 Single of the Week (Contemporary Folk); Roots Music Report, Week of November 26, 2022
#18 Album of the Month (Debut) ; EuroAmericana Chart; December 2022
#22 Album of the Month; NACC Folk Chart, December 2022
#32 Best of 2022; EuroaAmericana Chart, Year End Report
Glide Magazine - Brian Blake Delivers Story-Telling Marvels On ‘Book of Life’
Americana Highways - "Book of Life" Song Premiere
Rocking Magpie (UK) - A Once In a Lifetime Americana Debut
Americana UK - Reflective, emotional storytelling from Memphis troubadour
Americana Highways - 'Book of Life' Review
Texas Homegrown Music - Podcast Interview with Maylee Thomas
Music that Needs Attention (Netherlands) - 'Book of Life' Review
Le Cre Du Coyote (France) - 'Book of Life' Review
Americana Highways - "New Year's Day" Video Premiere
Fervor Coulee (Alberta) - Favorite Roots Albums of 2022
Lonestar Time (Italy) - 'Book of Life' Album Review