Review: Brett Kissel’s new album points to the heart of Nashville

Cait Watters takes the first of what promises to be several trips around the globe as she reviews Brett Kissel’s latest album release.

Brett Kissel Album Review - Compass Project - South Cover Art
Brett Kissel’s new album is the first of four to come this year

Things going south are, more often than not, a bad thing.

Fear not with this one, as Brett Kissel’s latest album – and excitingly the first of four in a series – is actually a good thing.

Why four albums? And why South Album? The answer is simple, it represents a compass and ‘The Compass Project’ is what Brett has called this undertaking – the other albums will be, unsurprisingly, titled North, East and West.

‘I want to tap into all of the different quadrants that represent and guide me as a person, husband, father, artist, and entertainer,’ Kissel explained. ‘Those themes resonate in the distinct direction I take on each album!”

We start with South, the album representing Nashville, which is something Kissel admits is a safe decision.

‘‘South is a straightforward, heartfelt and authentic album that my fans would expect. This one has the heartbeat of Nashville pulsing through every song.”

That heartbeat is strong. Country music is known for its heart, its honesty and its good times, all of which can be found on this record, which was released on January 27.

Opener ‘Never Have I Ever’ has those breezy summer vibes with some twangy picking, as does ‘That’s Just You’. The songs have similar vibes and big choruses but are distinct in their own right – and spaced out enough to not blend into the other when listening in order. ‘All I Ever Wanted’ is another song that’s going to be a lot of fun live, a right singalong tune.

Single from Brett Kissel
The preciousness of childhood…

Ordering, overall, is solid. The fast paced ‘Never Have I Ever’ is followed by the slower ‘Watch It’ allowing listeners to catch their breath on a sweet number about the fleeting and preciousness of childhood from a father’s eyes – heart right there.

This project may be built around Nashville but Kissel, one of Canada’s finest musical exports, takes us back to his homeland on ‘Our Home’. A rousing patriotic anthem, his home country may not be explicitly mentioned but it can be felt through his words and his passion. You feel every word, every note. A stunning self-penned number.

Line In The Sand’…oof. One that will hit home for some folk, a song about keeping going even when things aren’t great. ‘When the news and politicians try and scare us/I can’t sit idly by while this world breaks’, Kissel sings. Relevant and raw, a picture painted of a country in turmoil and uncertainty and people suffering as a result, yet Kissel won’t give in and won’t give up. It’s a poignant number to end on, a reference to these trying times and a spark of optimism.

Brett Kissel
The Compass Project is about exploring the different themes of his life says Brett Kissel

Interestingly, the album also features a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Cadillac Ranch’. Covering a Springsteen song is a pretty bold choice – it’s Springsteen after all – but I think Kissel does a fine job, putting a fresh spin on it with fiddles, a fun piano and a brilliant riff. This brave decision definitely pays off.

Overall, a solid start to Kissel’s project…and an interesting one, too. This is the relative safe album of the four, that ‘straightforward’ one – it is indeed that and it’s great. It also leaves me eager to see what the Canadian has up his sleeves for the next one…and then the two after that!

South Album Track Listing:

  1. “Never Have I Ever” – Brett Kissel, Thomas “Tawgs” Salter, Elizabeth Lowell-Boland, and Ron Lopata
  2. “Watch It” – Matt Rogers and Blake Bollinger
  3. “Ain’t The Same” (featuring 98°) – Brett Kissel, Karen Kosowski, and Tim Nichols
  4. “Our Home” – Brett Kissel
  5. “Starts And Ends With You” – Brett Kissel, Emma-Lee, and Karen Kosowski
  6. “All I Ever Wanted” – Jacob Durrett, Justin Wilson, and Weston Davis
  7. “First Place” – Brett Kissel, Jason Nix, and Jason Gantt
  8. “That’s Just You” – Brett Kissel and Dave Thomson
  9. “Standing In The Dark” – Steve Fox, Mark Smith, and Sean Smith
  10. “Line In The Sand” – Brett Kissel
  11. “Cadillac Ranch” – Bruce Springsteen

There won’t be long to wait for the next instalments…East Album is due in early spring, West Album in mid-summer and the North Album in the Autumn.

To find out more, visit and follow him on socials:

Twitter @BrettKissel

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