Local neo-soul outfit Bree & the Fellas’ sophomore album It Be Like That Sometimes..., released via State Fair Records, runs the gamut thematically from relationships to escapism to civil rights. Songwriter Breanna Parker weaves these themes together with her trademark conversational songwriting, each song feeling like a back-and-forth with the singer.
“The most important thing to me is the lyrics,” Parker says. “I’ve been lately trying to make sure they’re relatable and positive. Like, if I die tomorrow what messages did I leave behind?’”
It’s in that vein that a good portion of the album sits — conversational songs with such heavy-hitting themes as Black empowerment (“Dear Society,” “Somebody”), lost friendship/love (“Snakes in the Grass,” “Don’t Try to Catch me,” “Closure”), as well as more lighthearted fare dealing with her recent engagement and the love that fuels it.
“Most of this record is just about these issues that come up and not having them defeat you, just taking a breath and saying ‘It be like that sometimes,’” Parker says. “It’s all about maintaining your sense of joy and peace. Happiness is a thing that comes from outside influences; joy is a state of being. You’ve got to keep that joy.”
The cover art on It Be Like That… reflects Parker’s ongoing theme of self-contained joy. She's standing under an umbrella on a drizzling day, unfazed by the weather, emanating sunlight and joy — the walls around her almost brighten.
This year marks a series of big moves for Parker, who was not only nominated for a Dallas Observer Music Award for Best Funk/R&B, but also got engaged to her partner in song (and life), Ari Raphiel.
Parker dedicated and/or wrote multiple songs to him on this album, including “Focus” and “Man on the Sun.”
In “Focus,” she begs her love to carry on, breathe and believe the mantra “It Be Like That Sometimes” when life gets to be too much. And, she wants him to know that he can use her as a crutch of sorts in the meantime.
Parker has a proclivity for writing songs that can feel like the voices of trusted advisors. She says some of it comes from her upbringing.
“I was raised very conservative, but I always wanted this," she says of music. "So I tell other artists for any dream: You should be afraid, but just leap through and land where you land.”
The first single on the album, “Somebody,” is Parker’s writing style distilled to a T. It’s simultaneously timely, important, succinct, well-meaning and infectiously happy.
“To me, ‘Somebody’ is an anthem of equality, love, and most of all, unity," Parker says. "The takeaway is that there’s a million differences between us all, but there’s also a million similarities. And the quicker we can focus more on those, the quicker we can start to get along more."
“Just ‘cause the sun decided to kiss me a little longer don’t mean that I should see any less of its light," she sings on "Somebody." "Just cause I don’t walk like you or talk like you don’t mean that I mean less than you / I am somebody/ I matter too.”
The video features Bree and her band The Fellas dancing throughout the streets of Deep Ellum surrounded by neighborly faces. This elation is backdropped by the boarded-up businesses covered in Black Lives Matter murals. The haunting memorials for those lost to police brutality, juxtaposed by the hopefulness in the song, create a duality that becomes ever more important to hold in times of change.
Listen to It Be Like That Sometimes... below: