Brian Straw, a singer-songwriter who mixes elements of indie-folk, rock, and experimental music into his unique compositional style, has announced the release of his debut album, Baby Stars/Dead Languages. The news comes with the premiere of his first single, “Needle in the Creek,” with Glide Magazine.
An artistic mainstay in his hometown of Cleveland, OH, Straw started building his career in the early 2000s with tours of the US and Europe. However, alcoholism soon stalled his momentum, resulting in a hiatus from his own musical output for nearly 15 years. While taking a step back from performing and recording his own music, Straw built a recording studio in a warehouse on Cleveland’s west side, engineering records - as well as live shows - for others.
After having his last drink in 2017, Straw resumed his own performances and began to refine and record songs that he’d been working on for years, as well as ones that came out of his journey to sobriety. The title of the resulting record, Baby Stars/Dead Languages, is meant to symbolize the beginning and end of a cycle, both ruminating on the difficult time he spent at rock bottom - including losing his girlfriend as a result of his drinking - and celebrating finding his way back into the light.
“This album is what happens after sobriety. The songs unfold in real-time. Everything I was dealing with emotionally went in the music,” Straw explains. “I was hard on myself. I carried around a lot of shame and regret. I broke down a lot. I lost my girlfriend. The making of the record became my therapy.”
The first single, “Needle in the Creek,” dives deep into the struggles that Straw experienced during his addiction. “This song is about a very dark and mysterious friend who both fascinated and scared me. Our time spent together was brief and intense, beautiful and strange,” he says. “There was a beauty I found in her scars, and this is my attempt at explaining that beauty.” This song was written before she tragically died of a heroin overdose, and explores the feeling of being attracted to someone with dark tendencies. “You could say she served as my muse and my study.”
Baby Stars/Dead Languages introduces Straw’s deft compositional abilities and ambitious scope to a new audience while giving his long-time fans from his local scene the music they’ve been waiting for. Recorded in his own studio/gallery space, Survival Kit, it features several notable Cleveland-based musicians such as Bill Lestock, Nick Cross, Tony Cross, Mike Tolan, Rob Kovacs, Dan Price, and Emily Keener, many of whom will be joining Straw for a string of upcoming shows.