Batter Up!

Batter Up!

Brett Dennen has a ‘love/hate’ relationship with baseball

By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski

Singer-songwriter Brett Dennen enjoys talking about music but get him chatting baseball and it’s on.

Dennen loves his Oakland A’s and America’s pastime. Well, actually, it’s a “love/hate thing.”

“The A’s are usually good, but not good enough, for whatever reason. When they’re really good, you have to watch.”

“I get really involved and wrapped up in it,” says Dennen, whose music has been compared to Jason Mraz and Jack Johnson. “I think to myself, I’m a grown man. I’m always checking stats and standings. The season is like one of those slow-build albums. You don’t know why, but you like it. The more you listen to it, the better it gets. Then you start making all these comparisons to life.”

Dennen is hoping to take in a D-backs game when he comes to the Musical Instrument Museum to play two shows, Thursday, May 16, and Friday, May 17.

“I always try to make every show completely different,” Dennen says of his concerts. “The set depends on the crowd and the mood I’m in. As far as music goes, there’s a nice mix of songs I think people want to hear.

“I often take requests. I try to play new songs I’m working on; songs I’m not sure if I even like or not. I try to play old songs that people don’t listen to as much. Sometimes I go on tangents or play songs I wish people liked more than they do. Sometimes I think I’m a stand-up comedian. I try to honor whatever mood I’m in.”

A performer, watercolor artist and environmental conservationist, Dennen is promoting the EP “Here’s Looking at You Kid,” which was released in August 2018. It’s the second half of a two-part EP collaboration with Semisonic’s Dan Wilson, who cowrote songs for Adele and the Dixie Chicks.

The first EP, “Let’s…,” was released in February 2018 and included “Already Gone,” an adult album alternative hit.

“Dan is the best,” he says. “I threw myself at him and said, ‘I want to do a project with you, where you’re more than a collaborator. Take me under your wing and help me make something beautiful.’”

On his website, Wilson had just as complimentary things to say about Dennen.

“I’m really proud of this project, and I’ve loved getting to know Brett so well creatively and personally,” he wrote. “We wrote several of the songs on the record with my good friend and frequent collaborator Jenny Owen Youngs. Benjie Lysaght, Aaron Sterling, Wendy Wang, Brett and I were the band for the sessions. What a great team, and I’m excited for you all to hear the fruits of our labor.”

Dennen says the process behind the pair of EPs was foreign to him, as it was much more collaborative and spontaneous than his previous releases.

“We just hung out in his living room and he fiddled around on his guitar,” Dennen says about Wilson. “Sometimes other collaborators were in the room. We’d talk and goof around, but then a song would come together really fast and we’d dive into it.

“It’s a good soundtrack of two people exploring a friendship.”

Dennen isn’t touring much these days, as he’s a full-time father who spends his free time writing songs for a forthcoming album.

“If you’re a fan of Dan Wilson, imagine where I would be after spending 1 1/2 years working with him and how that would change me,” Dennen says. “That’s what you’re going to hear from my new songs.”