Summer Dean puts on a hell-of-a show. Armed with three albums, constant tours, and a hot five-piece band behind her, Summer struts onto every stage with the confidence and vulnerability of a songstress that’s has cemented her place among the top rank Texas tunesmiths. Her live show takes the concert goer on a ride through heartache and hope as though her songs came from inside the chest of every person in the room. Whether with her full band or all by herself, listeners and watchers are bound to fall in love watching the authentic, funny, and honest storyteller perform her way into legendary status.
Her candor is palpable in every syllable and sound of the acclaimed singer-songwriter’s new record, The Biggest Life, a profound, vivid document of the songwriter’s might.
“I’m very proud of myself and this record,” Dean says. “It’s the most real and vulnerable I’ve ever been with my writing.”
There is indeed a rawness and a reality to Dean’s songs which sets her apart as a songwriter of real substance. It’s no wonder Texas legends like Bruce Robison, wanted to produce her album based on the strength of Dean’s simple iphone-recorded demos, calling her work “bracing.”
You can hear hard-earned humanity in “Big Ol Truck,” a wry ode to reality not always matching expectations, just as you can hear it in the woozy cantina swirl of “She’s in His Arms, But I’m in the Palm of His Hand,” and particularly in the album’s shattering closer, “Lonely Girl’s Lament,” Dean’s most formidable moment on record to date.
“It’s a human story she’s telling,” Robison says. “She’s showcasing life from her perspective. There are things in Summer’s songs that can resonate with people, even if they’ve never lived anything she’s talking about.”
For her part, Dean says Robison’s stamp of approval was “incredibly validating.” “His credentials as a writer gave me the confidence I needed to make this kind of album — completely analog, unfiltered and organic,” she says.
Dean has been steadily gaining momentum since the release of her break-out 2021 LP Bad Romantic. Critics hailed Romantic, with Texas Monthly saying Dean showed “deft skill at disarming listeners with her vulnerability,” while the Boot said Dean “spins vibrant tales of her blue-collar life, turning life’s ordinary moments into extraordinary ones.”
Dean was also just named the Texas Country Music Awards Female Artist of the Year and 2023 Ameripolitan Honky Tonk Female of the Year. She’s performed with an array of country aces, including Colter Wall, Marty Stuart, Asleep at the Wheel, Hayes Carll, Mike and the Moonpies and Charley Crockett.
Dean’s devotion to honesty in the making of The Biggest Life extended to its creation, with these 13 songs being recorded completely analog at the Bunker, Robison’s Lockhart studio, with a hand-picked band of collaborators. It’s a fitting approach for music that leaves nowhere to hide and spares no detail.
Embracing an approach which made every studio take a high wire act suited Dean’s sensibility for this new material: “It made me let go of perfection,” she says. “I think when any artist does that, they do their best.”
That’s precisely what Summer Dean gives you on The Biggest Life: A handmade album, teeming with unadorned, universal truths, written and performed by a consequential artist whose singular perspective on the world may just profoundly alter yours.