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The music of Brigitte Calls Me Baby is equal parts elegant time warp and up-close exploration of our modern-day neuroses. The Chicago-based band ingeniously spans genres and eras, merging the lavish romanticism of mid-century pop with the frenetic energy and spiky intensity of early millennium indie-rock. Centered on Leavins’ hypnotically crooning vocal work, the result is a rare convergence of sophistication and style and unabashed sincerity.
As shown on their debut EP This House Is Made Of Corners — a five-song project made with nine-time Grammy Award-winning producer Dave Cobb — Brigitte Calls Me Baby possess a singular musicality informed by Leavins’ eclectic upbringing. Originally from the Southeast Texas town of Port Arthur, he grew up listening to Roy Orbison records at his grandparents’ house next door, while his parents played him new-wave bands like The Cars and his friends turned him onto Radiohead and The Strokes. At age 13, Leavins took up guitar and began writing songs of his own, quickly discovering his distinct vocal style. “At first I didn’t like the way I sang and couldn’t really do anything about it, but as I got older I started to appreciate it more,” he reveals. “My whole inclination toward music came from being in this small town in Texas with nowhere to go and nothing to do, and wanting to be understood without having to say anything.”
Upon moving to Chicago in 2016, Leavins immersed himself in the local music scene and soon linked up with guitarists Jack Fluegel and Trevor Lynch, bassist Devin Wessels, and drummer Jeremy Benshish, who joined him in co-founding Brigitte Calls Me Baby. As the band built up their catalog, Leavins was tapped to take part in recreating a series of Elvis Presley songs for Baz Luhrmann’s 2022 biopic Elvis, a turn of events that found him crossing paths with Cobb. “Dave and I hit it off right away and started talking about the music we loved, and when we reconnected later he asked me to send him some of the songs I’d been working on,” Leavins recalls. Soon after sharing a batch of demos with Cobb (whose credits include modern classics like Jason Isbell’s Southeastern and Sturgill Simpson’s Metamodern Sounds in Country Music), Brigitte Calls Me Baby headed to Nashville to record their debut body of work at the legendary RCA Studio A.
Co-produced by Cobb and Brigitte Calls Me Baby and mostly recorded live, This House Is Made Of Corners opens on a lush and cinematic track called “The Future is Our Way Out,” a prime introduction to the EP’s heightened yet palpably genuine emotionality. “I want to be earnest even when it’s uncomfortable, and write unapologetically about things like my intense fear of death,” says Leavins. “‘The Future is Our Way Out’ is about that fear, but it’s also about hoping there might be something beyond death, a way out of all the mess and the sadness that plagues us in life.” On “Impossibly Average,” pounding rhythms and shimmering guitar tones form the backdrop to what Leavins refers to as a “a bit of a self-loathing song, about trying to cope with someone’s very high expectations of you.” And on “Eddie My Love,” Brigitte Calls Me Baby present a gorgeously aching portrait of obsession and despair. “‘Eddie My Love’ paved the way for all the songs that would come after it,” says Leavins, who first penned the track as a ballad. “It felt so vulnerable from the jump, and made me realize that there’s no point in being anything but vulnerable in what we do.”