Hands-on Music

Brianna Straut looks to push past her singer-songwriter roots and incorporate heavy grooves, electric guitar and drums in future albums. Photo: Nikki Rae

Brianna Straut looks to push past her singer-songwriter roots and incorporate heavy grooves, electric guitar and drums in future albums. Photo: Nikki Rae

Brianna Straut honors her community and marches forward with album trilogy

By Steve Graham

Don’t let the length of Brianna Straut’s  first album fool you. She is a hard-working singer-songwriter with plenty to say about her journey to Colorado.

She only released five songs on “La Mano,” but the beautiful, textured songs and her captivating voice reflect a lifetime of stories and experiences. She is planning two more releases by the end of 2019. She is also promoting the albums with a relentless calendar of house shows, club gigs and brewery performances.

Her “hands trilogy” began last fall with her acclaimed debut. She said the release is inspired by the hands of her community, which she has created and curated since moving to Colorado from Texas.

Straut was born in Houston, but moved one hour north to the small, conservative town of Livingston as a small child. 

“I grew up southern Baptist and going to church,” she said. But Straut didn’t fit in the box she was being forced into, particularly regarding her sexuality.

“Everything you know is ‘this is the way it is,’” she said. “There were not a lot of people in my life I knew who were gay so I didn’t even know that was an option.”

She even almost married a man before calling off the union and moving to west Texas, where her songwriting career started. 

“I started the process of trying to be more transparent and started writing, literally on the walls of the trailer,” Straut said.

A few years later, a roommate from the trailer who had moved to Colorado invited her to come stay. Straut had recently come out to her family “and it didn’t go so well.” So she was ready for a fresh start.

“I didn’t even have a car,” she said. “I took three boxes with me to Boulder on a whim.”

Straut felt more welcomed in Colorado than she had in Texas. 

“Colorado is a much more accepting place,” she said. “There are more examples of people living their truths.”

After about three years in Colorado and a difficult breakup, she tried to move back to Texas, but soon realized it was no longer home.

“The entire time I spent down there I was talking about Colorado and that’s when I realized my roots are here,” Straut said.

When she first moved to Colorado, she worked in home health care for about 18 months.

“I wanted something that was consistent and for another person,” she said.

She started writing and performing more music, while also playing in two other Denver Americana bands. Bison Bone released its second full-length album in February, and Tomahawk Fox is currently on hiatus while Straut focuses on her solo career and her “hands trilogy.”

Straut struggles to get by as a full-time musician, and earns extra income with odd jobs and an Airbnb rental. She said she also takes up a part-time job to pay for studio time whenever she is recording.

“It’s a lot of hustling,” she said of her demanding work and nearly nightly gig schedule.

Her performances draw comparisons to Brandi Carlile and Bonnie Raitt, although she hopes to branch out from her folky, singer-songwriter stylings on her two new albums this year.

She plans on adding more electric guitar and less cello on the next release, and she is working with the drummer and bass player from Neyla Pekarek’s band.

“It’s going to be bigger and a more full sound with some really heavy grooves,” Straut said. “It’s going to be a fun album. I look forward to putting it out.” 

Steve Graham is a freelance writer and former newspaper editor who likes taking his two young boys biking, hiking and brewery-hopping in northern Colorado.