On his new single, “Happened In My Youth,” NYC singer/songwriter Aaron David Gleason is finally getting a long-worked-for clean start. After releasing his debut solo album Wry Observer in 2017, he went back to clean out a deep catalog of unreleased songs; he’d had a record deal with his glam rock band The Midnight Radio and a publishing deal as a solo writer, both of which fizzled out in the aughts as part of a label system that was going through a digital identity crisis.
With all of that housekeeping accounted for in 2019–four albums worth of material finally remastered and released–he was ready for a reinvention. “That last release was me finally making peace with the past,” Gleason says. “I needed to end it on a good note, but then it was high time to move forward, and part of moving forward meant working with new genres, instrumentation, and people.”
He went to Nashville to lay down a new batch of songs in a new style (“lush, theatrical indie rock seemed to be what it was”). But before any of it could see release, the COVID-19 pandemic struck. “The world flipped upside-down, and when I realized what little I had control over, I went back to those Nashville sessions and started rolling up my sleeves–this time, I was at home, and needed to learn how to make this all sound good.”
“Happened In My Youth” comes from those sessions, and it delivers on the promise of lush, theatrical indie rock in its brassy strut. Over uneasy piano chords, Gleason tells a story of reconnecting with an old friend, and the dawning horror when you find out they’ve fallen under the sway of something ugly. “People are losing–still losing–their family members to cults,” he says. “It’s horrifying. This song is about meeting your high school friend every year for your ‘annual dinner,’ but this year, all hell breaks loose. You realize your relationship is fractured–you’ll never have the bond you once did.”
Gleason sees the song as a step forward, and he has big plans for what comes next, hoping to write for musical theater and to co-write with other artists. “As for my personal singer songwriter career? I feel good being vulnerable, honest, and neurotic,” he says. “I don’t mind being myself. I LOVE LOVE this next generation after me–they’re inspiring me, and the fact that they have a place at the table for me is an honor and privilege I don’t take lightly.”