Singer Dean Brody performs during Westerner Days

One of Canada’s brightest country stars will hit the stage in Red Deer next month.

COUNTRY CROONER – Dean Brody will hit the stage during Westerner Days on July 20.

COUNTRY CROONER – Dean Brody will hit the stage during Westerner Days on July 20.

One of Canada’s brightest country stars will hit the stage in Red Deer next month.

Dean Brody plays the ENMAX Centrium on July 20 during Westerner Days. Showtime is 8:30 p.m.

The Nova-Scotia based, B.C. bred singer/songwriter has certainly made a name for himself in country music.

Midway through the title track of Dean Brody’s 2012 release, Dirt, fans find themselves wearing the kind of silly grin they may remember sporting the first time they stuck their fingers in the mud as a kid.

This, Brody’s third full-length release, and the follow up to his hugely successful 2010 effort – Trail in Life – is no exception.

On Dirt, Brody sings it like he sees it, and whether he sees two generations of family grieving by a riverbank, a .45 toting lady who picks up a random hitchhiker to share the burden of an all-night drive, or a drop-dead gorgeous Canadian girl in a toque, on the first listen, fans see them just as clearly.

“The title track, Dirt, stands out as the most ‘country’ song on the record,” said Brody, and takes a playful look at the role dirt plays in Canadian’s lives from the time they first come home covered in it, to the moment Canadian’s are laid down under a nice cool layer of earth for good. “It just says a lot in one word.”

For Brody, it brings up memories of playing with his first Tonka truck – a time when all he needed to have a rip-roaring good time was a shovel, a fresh patch of ground and his imagination. But it also stands for where we’re from. And our relationship with the stuff can say a fair bit about the path we take to finding out who we’re meant to be, where our own trail in life is supposed to lead us, and how we get there.

Growing up in the tiny town of Jaffray, B.C., Brody took his first job at age 15 at the local sawmill. While it was tough, it only set the tone for what would become a much tougher gig down the line – his struggle to make a living as a singer/songwriter. After landing his first publishing deal in 2004, Brody headed to Nashville, but two years on, found himself back in Jaffray, back at the mill, and at a crossroads in his musical career.

A recording contract with Broken Bow Records led him south again for another five years and although his self-titled debut broke the top 25 in the U.S., the top 10 in Canada and garnered him a CCMA for Single of the Year, his partnership with the label was threatened by an ultimatum that Brody simply could not accept. He soon found himself looking for a new home in Canada for both his growing family and his music.

He’d soon find both; settling down on Nova Scotia’s South Shore and inking a deal with Open Road Recordings in 2009. Since, Brody has become one of Canada’s brightest country stars. His sophomore album Trail in Life yielded four top 10 singles, won three 2011 CCMA Awards for Album, Songwriter and Single of the Year as well as a 2011 JUNO nomination for Country Album of the Year. To top it off Brody finished out 2011 as the Most Played Canadian Country Artist of the year on Canadian radio.

With the highly anticipated release of Dirt’s lead single, Canadian Girls – a no holds barred country rocker – honouring Canadian women from ‘coast to coast to coast’ and the number one most added song in the nation of any genre in its first week at radio – the demand for Brody’s signature brand of image-driven storytelling is greater than ever.

Recorded at Sound Stage Studios and Curb Studios in Nashville with longtime producer/mixer Matt Rovey at the helm, Dirt finds Brody expanding his range as a songwriter and storyteller dramatically. Although he still takes cues from longtime country influences like Dwight Yoakam and Randy Travis, Dirt is also influenced by the rich musical heritage of Brody’s adopted Maritime home and nowhere more so than on It’s Friday – an east meets west stomping party song featuring Great Big Sea’s Alan Doyle, Sean McCann and Bob Hallett.

Like a number of the songs on Dirt, It’s Friday is written with Brody’s live show in mind. “People come out to shows, they don’t want to sit around listening to heavy songs on a Friday or Saturday night, they want to have a good time.” Dirt, from top to bottom, has lots of songs to keep audiences on their feet.

In no way is this a concept record, but the idea of dirt as a reflection of where you come from shows up in a number of Brody’s new songs. “When I write, often the theme is about home, even if a song isn’t directly about that, it usually works its way in there.” Although that’s a theme ground deep into the fabric of country music, Brody has an uncommon way of writing about it. “I’m not so much lyrically driven as picture driven,” he says. “I’m trying to paint the pictures I see in my own mind with words and music.” As detailed as those musical pictures are, Brody always leaves room for listeners to populate his songs with the people they grew up with and to see the landscapes they were surrounded by in their own lives.

From straight up love songs like ‘Losing My Balance’ and Brody’s co-write with George Canyon, ‘The Sleeping Bag Song’, to all out country rocker, ‘Canadian Girls’, Dirt’s 11 tracks play out like a series of short films.

Tickets for Dean Brody can be purchased through TicketMaster.

— Fawcett