'Better Part of Me', the new song from SYML—the solo project of singer, songwriter and producer Brian Fennell—featuring bluegrass vocalist and fiddler Sara Watkins of Nickel Creek and I’m With Her premieres today—listen/share here. The track is taken from Fennell’s forthcoming album, The Day My Father Died, set for release February 3 via Nettwerk/V2 Records—pre-order/pre-save here.
“When I talk about someone being the ‘Better Part of Me,’ it’s certainly a familiar trope. There is a sweetness that is appropriate and not saccharine when we think about our ‘other,’” says Fennell. “Love is certainly a journey full of conflict and challenge, and the best way to become better together is through being honest with ourselves and one another. And to have Sara Watkins join me on this song is something of a dream. Nickel Creek’s first album was a blueprint for me as I started singing and writing songs. I love her voice, and the tenderness and simplicity she brings to this song fits perfectly.”
The Day My Father Died finds Fennell telling a story of interpersonal connection and chosen kinship following the death of his adoptive father in 2021. More a document of growth and healing than of loss, the 15-track record charts Fennell’s journey to figure out how to move forward after a fundamental and intractable shift in his life.
“The ever-expanding universe will always frighten and delight me, but the truly unbelievable shit happens down here at our human level,” Fennell says. “Losing my dad felt like running out of air. I still feel it in my gut. But this record is not about losing him, it’s about what happens after we have lost.”
Recorded and produced in Fennell’s hometown with fellow Seattle-native Phil Ek (Band of Horses, Father John Misty, Fleet Foxes), 'The Day My Father Died' is his first album to feature a full band. In addition to Sara Watkins and Lucius, the new LP includes contributions from Guy Garvey and Charlotte Lawrence.
“Working with Phil was exciting, humbling, and memorable,” Fennell says. “This dude has produced some insane records that are beloved by everyone I know. The music that Guy, Sara, Charlotte, and Lucius makes it all beautiful and uniquely their own. I feel fortunate to say that we all now have songs together. Again, I want to say I can’t believe it’s happened, but it has.”
With over one billion lifetime streams, SYML—Welsh for “simple”—makes music that taps into the instincts that drive us to places of sanctuary, whether that be a place or a person. Born and raised in Seattle, Fennell studied piano and became a self-taught producer, programmer, and guitarist. He released his self-titled debut album in 2019, which included the platinum-selling song 'Where’s My Love', followed by the grief-stricken EP DIM released in 2021. After supporting Dermot Kennedy on his most recent U.S. tour in late 2021, SYML embarked on an extensive headline tour of his live album Sacred Spaces, performing in beautiful churches around the world. The tour saw him perform across North America and Europe, including sold out nights in London, Paris, and Amsterdam as well as three dates at L.A.’s Masonic Lodge and Montreal’s Corona Theater. The tour ended with a very special hometown show at Seattle’s St. Mark’s Cathedral, bringing SYML back to where the project began. His music has been featured in countless movies, TV series and ad campaigns including Netflix’s original series “Behind Her Eyes,” which featured his version of 'Mr. Sandman' as the title track.