We are honoured to give you an early listen to Sydney musician Bryan Estepa‘s new EP ‘Back to the Middle’. Estepa is a master of the finely crafted pop song: indelible melodies, jangling guitars, glorious harmonies and a shimmering sense of optimism and joy. ‘Back to the Middle’ perfectly captures this: it is a sunshine-infused assemblage of sparkling and crystalline tracks, touched with melancholia yet capable of inducing euphoric thrills. There is without doubt a Beatlesque thrill to his songs, but this is a mere signpost: his songwriting has its own distinct and unique flavour.
Estepa says of the EP:
Sometimes the most exciting type of music I create is when songs are not overly thought out or conceived with a grand plan and sound. I feel that these sessions were the tonic to freeing up my songwriting choices and making me unafraid of where things could end up. I credit Josh and the fine musicians who helped me shape this record for that
The title track opens the EP: a vibrant pop track with a hint of an Americana twang and glorious harmonies and a mop top bounce. ‘Everything You Want’ is an anthemic and yearning song with a sing along chorus and endearing background doo-wops.
We have already heard the single ‘Trick of the Light: an achingly beautiful track infused with a deep melancholia with heartfelt lyrics. Estepa says of the track:
I like the idea that the presence of light does not necessarily signal happiness or life but can also mean that emotions and perception can be blurred by its appearance.
‘Little White Lie’ is another gorgeous anthemic pop song: beautiful and bold with massive brush strokes of jangling pop.
‘Admit Now, Pay Later’ is Estepa at his most George Harrison: chiming guitars, yearning harmonies and mountain high melodies.
The EP closes with a respectful interpretation of Bob Dylan’s ‘I Threw It All Away’: Estepa captures Dylan’s urgency and earnestness while adding that vital element of melody.
‘Back To The Middle’ is out on Friday, 24 September 2021 through Lilystars Records: you can listen to it exclusively through the link below.
Estepa worked closely with Sydney musician and producer Josh Pyke and talks of the experience in developing the EP with Pyke:
I’ve always wanted to work with Josh Pyke, who I’ve known and admired for a long time now. He’s one of my favourite Aussie songwriters and a real inspiration. This Back To The Middle EP was born out of the need to stay creative during COVID’s forced lockdowns and an opportune and exciting chance to collaborate with Josh. I found it liberating to enter his studio with only a rough plan and literally see where the music would take us. Half-finished songs ended up becoming co-writes, unexpected production choices were made and a lot of ideas formed around the much-used pool table. It was basically my funhouse and escape during that time.
Born in Cubao, Quezon City in the Philippines, Estepa and his family moved to Sydney, Australia in 1987. It was there, at the age of 15, that he began to pursue the craft of songwriting before starting his adult musical journey fronting indie pop band Swivel in the late-90s pub scene. He recorded his inaugural CD with the band, which paved the way for his solo career. A year of travelling across the USA and performing at open mic nights inspired songs for his debut EP, Start Again in 2003 and since then Estepa has gone on to release six critically acclaimed solo albums (All The Bells And Whistles, Sunday Best, Vessels, Heart Vs Mind, Every Little Thing and Sometimes I Just Don’t Know).
Estepa recently wrote a piece for SBS detailing his formative musical years as a Filipino growing up in Western Sydney and early in 2021 he appeared as a guest-host on ABC Radio’s Weekend Evenings, broadcast live across Australia, discussing his career in music.