Win Tickets ($60): An Evening with SYML @ Revolution Hall | Alternative, Indie Pop
We are giving away a pair of tickets to An Evening with SYML @ Revolution Hall on November 16. To win, comment below on this post why you’d like to attend. Winner will be drawn and emailed November 13.
From our sponsors:
An Evening with SYML
November 16, 2023
Doors 7PM, Show 9PM | $30 | All Ages
More info: event.etix.com
1300 SE Stark St., Portland, OR
SYML’s music has a sacred quality. The solo venture of Seattle artist Brian Fennell, its themes tap into the instincts that drive us to places of sanctuary, whether that be a place or person. “It comes back to your identity of being human; throughout time we’ve shared the same drive,” he explains. His own upbringing – interwoven with experiences of abandonment, adoption, loss, grief and love – is what drives him to question how connections between people shape us as individuals.
“We have this awesome capability to be conscious and know what it is to be here,” the 39-year-old believes. This outlook helped him process the death of his adoptive father in 2021, as well as be there for his friends and family. It transpired in his haunting, grief-stricken EP, DIM, written and released during that year, and now a new collection of songs, The Day My Father Died. “They’re pretty close in their creation point,” Fennell explains. “But the way they differ is, the first one carries the pain and confusion, and the album is actually light, at least for me.”
Those familiar with SYML’s earlier work – including his self-titled debut album released in 2019 – will recognise this reference to a sound embedded more in the darker folk and rock realms. Songs such as the compelling “Clean Eyes” were driven by electric guitar licks, propulsive rhythms and a lower, more urgent style of vocal delivery. “Break Free” was an early demonstration of his fascination with our more carnal instincts, revelling in squalls of guitar and a heady thrum of bass. In between these tracks was the startlingly beautiful “Where’s My Love”, swept up in bright piano notes, swoons of double bass and Brian’s affecting falsetto. The song now has more than a billion streams, a testament to the emotional potency of his songwriting.
The Day My Father Died is an exceptional record. Over 15 songs, SYML offers a profound exploration of the ways in which our lives intertwine. It opens on the devotional “Howling”, a steadily unfolding paean delivered in his unique, reverent falsetto: “Keep me howling, baby / I’ll be your beast, I’ll be your dog / Keep me howling, baby / And I’ll keep begging you for more.” His spectacular vocal acrobatics are swathed in swooning gospel harmonies that build to an ecstatic choir, mingling with Fennell’s own hair-raising cries: “My blood and my body will sing out your praises / Save me, save me, save me.”
“It’s about worshipping your partner, wanting to be saved by their beauty,” he says of the track. “That idea of being insatiable… we’re often told that’s a sinful thought, something hedonistic. But you’re this hurricane of sexuality and fulfilment – being fulfilled by someone else. I love that storm.”
“I think at the core of why I make music is to try and be as honest as possible, in terms of what I’ve experienced,” he says. “This record comes from a place of wanting to bring down defences between us and our experiences.”