Super-duo Geoff Downes & Chris Braide, known as the Downes Braide Association (DBA), release their new album Skyscraper Souls on 17th November through their own label X2X Records via Cherry Red.
This is their 3rd collaboration for DBA and follows their two previous critically-acclaimed releases Pictures of You (2012) and Suburban Ghosts (2015).
Both members have an immense body of work. Chris Braide is a British singer, songwriter and producer, now based in LA, who has written and produced songs for Beyonce, Lana del Rey, Paloma Faith, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, David Guetta, Sia, Afrojack & Marc Almond… to name a few. Geoff Downes is the prog legend who has played keyboards in The Buggles, Asia & Yes… he co-wrote the hits Heat of the Moment and Video Killed the Radio Star.
Skyscraper Souls is a more traditional progressive/classic rock/band album than their previous material, but retains a strong pop aesthetic and features many great guest contributions, including Marc Almond, Andy Partridge from XTC and Kate Pierson from the B52s.
The idea for the album started as a series of sketches Geoff had been working on after a break from touring last year. By the time he returned from the road he directed the subsequent pent-up energy into composition and the ideas literally poured out. As a kid, Chris had always loved expansive pieces like Close To The Edge and Tubular Bells. While he is a huge pop fan and has written multitudes of pop hits for pop stars, his heart has a special place for those big studio epic productions.
On this album, Downes & Braide were joined by drummer Ash Soan (Trevor Horn, Squeeze, Faithless, Del Amitri, Adele, Cee Lo Green, Will Young, Robbie Williams & Gary Barlow and many more) and bassist Andy Hodge. Chris says, Having such an amazing rhythm section really brought the songs to life. With previous albums we always used drum machines and samples. There is so much warmth and movement in these recordings. They breathe!
The fact that their association has always had to fit around their extensive commitments has never dulled their remarkable musical creativity. This album went a step further and was co-written remotely – at no time were the pair ever in the same room! Chris explains, Geoff would send me folders full of stuff such as the magnificent piano pieces which turned into Glacier Girl and Prelude. As soon as I heard the chords I was writing lyrics like a mad man and before long the album started to materialize. Geoff adds, The ideas themselves were in a very rough format, but with the melodies & basic harmonies. Chris started playing around with these, and often, they came back with some radical changes, but Chris was always very conscious to retain my original idea
The pair feel Skyscraper Souls is their strongest album to date, which is no mean feat! This album contains constant motifs and themes that recur and flow throughout. Keeping strong melodies to the fore they have created a wonderfully interesting soundscape.
Track list as follows:
1. Prelude (ft Andy Partridge – XTC)
2. Skyscraper Souls (ft Kate Pierson – B52s)
3. Glacier Girl (ft Andy Partridge)
4. Angel On Your Shoulder (ft Matthew Koma)
5. Tomorrow (ft David Longdon – Big Big Train)
6. Lighthouse (ft Tim Bowness)
7. Skin Deep (ft Marc Almond)
8. Darker Times (ft Andy Partridge)
Photo: © Stephanie Cabral