Grab Hold of What Floats is the third album from NYC-based Brazos, the project of film composer and songwriter Martin Crane. It’s a breezy, forty four minute stroll through Martin’s jazz and folk infused ruminations on life and death. Written in an intense three weeks of creativity after a seven year hiatus away from songwriting, it traces the ecstatic exploration of reincarnation and rebirth. 
"I was not in the mode of self-expression, and I hadn't written a song in what felt like a lifetime," Martin says "then sometime in the start of September 2020, I began to wake up in the middle of the night with music in my head." By the end of the month, Martin had written as many songs as he'd written in his whole life. "Something about the stillness of the night set me off. I was living in the country. It was pitch black and dead silent, and I could hear the music clearly in my mind. I wrote it down in my phone without playing or singing a note. This music comes from this place in the middle of the night - a world that's walled off by sleep on either side." 

Songs like album opener "The Shining" reflect that state.
Trapped in a room for a night. 
Actually, this night is all time 
but I've got a window to see the shining 
Blinking with white fireflies 
the morse code of the sky 
send me a message that is undying.

"I remember writing that, watching fireflies at 3 a.m. while witnessing a hidden world that I normally sleep through. I felt at that moment like I was watching the infinite," Martin says. "The Shining" offers a distillation of Grab Hold's different threads - a soaring melody set to a pastoral waltz under lyrics that explore reincarnation with a conversational ease "we've known them well / through every feeling we've felt / being ourselves / as we trade one form for another". It's a song that offers an easy listen but can be felt and understood on a profound, spiritual level. 
The album runs the gamut from the mystical grandeur of “Your Love Gleams” to the domestic wink of “A Simple Song”. The titular song, "Grab Hold of What Floats", offers a laconic parable about trauma, Martin remarking “how trauma is a dividing force in life, compelling one to guard life while living it.” Songs like "Rituals" and "Somebody’s Listening" spin through whimsical love songs, while "Folded Wings Folded" on its surface presents as a warm, woodsy song about dreams. However, underneath lurks a darker center. “Folded wings folded is literally the image of folded arms in a coffin. It’s a song about speaking to the dead in the dark and communing with their reincarnated spirits the next day.” But it plays like a confessional singer-songwriter sketching with traditional images of Americana. It’s a stylistic hallmark of the album in general - the edge is there, but it’s hidden. 


Much of that sleight of hand can be credited to producer Spencer Zahn’s (CREDITS) jazz-centeric focus on spontaneity and performance in the recording. Zahn brought together a stellar group of NYC players Kenny Wollesen (CREDITS), Will Graefe (CREDITS), and Aaron Arntz (CREDITS) and engineer Philip Weinrobe (CREDITS) to record the songs live in 4 days. "I didn't know Kenny, Will or Aaron," Martin says. "In fact, I hadn't played live music in nearly 6 years before our session. But they are some of the best players in New York, and when they get going, it's like sitting on a golden sedan chair." The band didn't record to a click, and Martin sang his vocals live, each song being captured in three or four takes.  
This old-school recording approach gives Grab Hold of What Floats a lived in feeling similar to classic 70s singer-songwriter records, albeit with slight synth and auto-tuned harmony overdubs. Martin was listening to Willie Nelson, Stevie Wonder, Dory Previn, and Bill Withers in the months leading up to writing, and the raw honesty of Booker T. Jones' production cemented a starting point for the album's sound. Other references include Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Rosalia ("the greatest singer who has ever lived"), the poetry of Hafez and Adrienne Rich, The Archers' filmography, Wim Wenders' Wings of Desire, the seed supply company Salt of the Earth, Julie London, Ennio Morricone, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.
"I was on that naturalistic vibe, and this album feels like a human moment in time, mistakes and all. It slows down and speeds up, it's shaky, it miraculously finds itself and then slips away. Actual live music, music that is made away from machine-based rhythm feels so scarce today, like it's a rare element. I'm just trying to pull some more of it out of the ground."

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Trapped in a room for a night
Actually the night is all time
But I’ve got a window to see
The shining
Blinking w white fire flies
The Morse code of the sky
Send me a message that is
Ho hum it’s speaking in tongues
I’m doing my best to hear it,
The landing of new spirits
Of new souls and somehow I know
We’ll meet them in the distance
We’ve known them well
In every feeling we’ve felt
Being ourselves 
As we trade one form for another  
A face made of faces
a name made of names
And love is a light that the dark can’t contain
Don’t hand me a hammer 
I’m not breaking out cause
I’m not breaking down
I know this room well
I’m a passenger
Behind his open eye
In fact
I just told him to open his mouth
I just told him to sing out loud
He showed him how good it can feel to mean it
Ho hum it’s speaking in tongues
I’m doing my best to hear it,
The landing of new spirits
Of new souls and somehow I know
We’ll meet them in the distance
We’ve known them well 
In every feeling we’ve felt
Being ourselves 
As we trade one form for another  


Folded wings folded
Soft shut eyes dozing
Now your mind is open
Every path leads to the dark
Until knotted and unseen
Faintly outlined with stars
We disappear into a dream
Folded wings folded
Curled up like steam
An eddy in a deep stream
I leave the back door open
If you take to returning
Behind veil of my screen
I leave a lantern burning
Folding wings unfolding 
Like a bird in the night
Only the sound of flight 
A whisper 
That I can’t see
But hear so clearly
I woke up in a crazy state
As if inside a dream
The features of each strangers face
I had already seen
I felt the essence of my friends
In random shopkeepers and kids
I heard the laughter of your breath
On playgrounds and cafe decks
Folded wings folded
Soft shut eyes dozing
Now my mind is open
Oh how my mind is open

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At the end of everyday you come and find me
And curl into a ball
And kiss me on the cheek to say you love me
And then to sleep you go
A ritual
For us to keep
A ritual 
Of you and me
A thought as real as anything 
I could hold
I like to hang on all these rituals
We swore on all the meaning that would bind us
As if inside a trace
We kissed among our gathering of loved ones
And then all night we danced
A ritual
For us to keep
A ritual 
Of you and me
A thought as real as anything 
We could hold
We walk a trail Of all these rituals 
To some I might seem sentimental
To me they just seem cold
Unable to conceive of this
Magic hour sunlight stream
that bathes my world in gold
Or maybe they just can’t believe
That every day lays out an open morning
Made for an open mind
To sing a round on all the rounds before us
And truly harmonize 
A ritual
For us to keep
A ritual 
Of you and me
A thought as real as anything 
We could hold
Our life aligned on this one ritual

Your Love
I’m still inside the shadows
The hunter and the catch
Though you are not beside me
Your love
Alone in open water
The stars too dark to see
But I know where I’m going
Your love
Your mind is like a carpet
Your thoughts are like the fruit
I’m eating as I’m laying
In your love’s
How can I forget you
Now that I can see?
I call it a wonder
Your love leads 
The lantern flickers shadows
Soft across a face
Your body is but one form
Your love


Simple living
Is what I am
I'm easing into
Being it
Being the ladder
On which they climb
Being the landing
From which they fly
Being the bold
Backdrop of life
A simple time
Simple living
Is what I got
To be surrounded
It's quite a lot
If they're not laughing
They're gonna cry
Just make them happy
No questions why
Steady walk on
A steady line
A simple time
Simple as the stillness of snow
Simple as the ripples of a blue sailboat
Simple as a glow
It is easy to be known
A wait is over
A weight is on
Push it gently
A simple job
Turn it over
It's black and white
Keep it rolling
By keeping it light
Hold it close
But not too tight
Steady walk on
A steady line
Being the bold
Backdrop of life
I guess that means
I think I’m fine
A simple life