A new song is on the market, and with it, a new artist. Self-taught guitarist Bradley Thomas of Milwaukee released his first original single on March 16, called “Never Enough.” It’s a lullaby of a song, a soft-spoken testament to not being enough for the person you love.
Though Thomas has recently moved to Milwaukee, his heart remains in Madison where he graduated in 2016 with a degree in environmental science, and a focus in horticulture. He stuck around for a couple more years working in coffee shops, as well as starting a farm that lasted for a successful single season.
Madison played a huge part in his musical growth, before and after graduation. The opportunity to play at open mics, attend house shows in people’s basements, jam with his musician friends and even do a little busking paved the way for a project of his own.
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“I consider Madison to be my adult hometown,” Thomas said. “I sort of became who I am there.”
Thomas started off releasing cover songs on SoundCloud, but during that time wrote songs of his own as well. He didn’t start writing music with the intention of other people hearing it until around 2015, he said.
During the writing process, he draws a lot of inspiration from his personal life, like relationships. For him, it’s easier to write songs when he’s sad, so much of his material has encompassed things like breakups and moving. Being equally inspired by happy things is something he’s trying to work on for future songwriting as well.
Inspiration also comes from folk and indie rock music. Artists like Conor Oberst, The Tallest Man On Earth and Dawes are his top three inspirations, he said. Lately, R&B and jazz have been making their way onto his list.
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Out of all of that came “Never Enough,” the first song to pay tribute to his folk and singer-songwriter sound.
Thomas recorded the song at Williamson Magnetic Recording in Madison using analog equipment. This means the song doesn’t have multiple layers recorded on top of each other, one for guitar and one for vocals, for instance. Instead, Thomas played the song all the way through on one level. That means it has to pretty much be played perfectly from start to finish, because if you make a mistake, you have to start over. Thomas somehow recorded the song during his first take, and all on one microphone.
“I think it’s nice,” Thomas said. “It’s kind of like a purer way.”
It’s just a man, a mic and a guitar.
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Releasing the song has been an adventure in itself. The process was a long one — from writing to recording and mastering to releasing. There’s a price, both figuratively and literally, to releasing music, but that’s a price that you have to be willing to pay to have your music on popular channels, Thomas said.
“It’s a lot of clicking and agreeing to things,” Thomas said. “It’s kind of unfortunate that there has to be so many people along the way and services that you have to go through in order to get your music out.”
For now, Thomas has plans to get back in the studio and record a couple more songs. He has four other songs already recorded, but wants a few more to complete his next project, he said. He also plans to keep playing solo — writing and recording on his own feels purer in a way, he said. After he continues to work on music, and when the day comes to books some gigs, he’d consider having people join him.
While we wait for his next project, check out his sweet fingerpicking tune, “Never Enough.” His soft voice and nature-inspired lyrics are definitely going to take him places.