“This is my shot at redemption,” says Chase Bryant. “This is the second chance I never thought I’d have.”
In fact, by all objective measures, Chase Bryant shouldn’t be here right now, and yet he’s never sounded more alive, more vital, more himself than he does on his extraordinary new album, ‘Upbringing.’ Recorded in the aftermath of a season of darkness and despair, the record is a searing, honest portrait of struggle and resilience from a songwriter finally learning to love and trust himself, flaws and all. The music here is raw and exhilarating, captured live for the most part with an all-star band under the guidance of writer/producer Jon Randall (Miranda Lambert, Dierks Bentley), and the performances convey a kind of comfort and ease that Bryant’s spent much of his life in search of. Though the journey to this moment nearly put him in the grave, Bryant’s stronger now for his struggles, with a clear head, an open heart, and a remarkable full-length debut to show for it. Some may call it a comeback, but truth be told, it’s really more like a homecoming.
“In a way, I feel like I’ve been working on this record my whole life,” Bryant reflects. “I had to go back to Texas to make it, but it was inside me all along.”
Born and raised in rural Orange Grove, Bryant grew up dreaming of a life in music, inspired in part by his grandfather, who performed with Roy Orbison and Waylon Jennings, and his uncles, who co-founded the chart-topping band Ricochet. Those dreams came true faster than Bryant could have anticipated, though, and fame and success arrived with a hefty price. By 21, he already had two Top 10 singles and tours with the likes of Brad Paisley, Brantley Gilbert and Tim McGraw under his belt, but it all felt inauthentic, like he was playing a character with expectations he could never live up to. The harder he pushed back, the worse things got, and soon, Bryant barely recognized the man he saw in the mirror.
“I was a very confused individual,” he confesses. “I was cocky. I was arrogant, I was sick. And that led me down a pretty dark hole.”
Rock bottom came in a gas station parking lot, when Bryant’s anxiety and depression led him to put a loaded .357 revolver to his head.
“I was sitting there begging for some kind of intervention,” he recalls. “I said, ‘God, if you’re real, I need you to help me, to show me what I’m supposed to do, because otherwise I’m done.’ I felt like I just couldn’t take it anymore.”
When no sign arrived from above, Bryant screamed that he was sorry and pulled the trigger. He opened his eyes a few moments later, certain he was dead and waking up on some alternate plane of existence only to realize that something miraculous had happened, that he was somehow still alive. Opening the cylinder on the revolver, he found only five bullets instead of the six he was sure he’d loaded. The empty chamber had spared his life.