Atlanta’s Eliot Bronson creates a vivid emotional landscape on “River Runs Dry,” the opening track from his upcoming album, but he never actually describes what might be happening there or how we should feel about it.
“I do like story songs,” Bronson admits in an email to CMT Edge. “But I also think a moment can tell a story just like a picture can tell a story. That song is like looking back on fragments of a memory. It’s leaving a new lover’s apartment late at night, feeling alive and alone. Reading meaning into every shadow and tree branch and believing the radio announcer might be speaking directly to you. Something like that.”
Produced by Dave Cobb, the musical Sherpa who brought Jason Isbell to the mountaintop with 2013’s Southeastern, “River Runs Dry” captures the feeling of Bronson’s hypothetical midnight stroll — stillness, time to think and a sense of heading in a new, positive direction.
But when the singer-songwriter sets his hook — “I’ll be sailing down the river/When the river runs dry” – we’re suddenly left to wonder if this is the right path after all.
“I say in the song, ‘I don’t give up/I’ve never known why,’ and that’s the truth,” he explains. “I’m an incredibly persistent person. I always have been. Sometimes it’s a good thing, and other times it’s a liability. It’s just the way I’m built, I guess.
“I love how songs can speak to you on many levels at the same time. Life is complicated and messy. Feelings are confusing and elusive. I try to write songs that capture as much of that as possible.”
Bronson’s self-titled album, his third as a solo artist, arrives Oct. 21. Until then, enjoy the cautious optimism of “River Runs Dry” in its CMT Edge premiere.