In February 2023, 31-year-old Brittany Ann Tranbaugh (pronounced TRAN-baw) finally quit her office job to pursue a full-time music career. Though she began writing songs and playing gigs as a teenager, multiple bouts of creative and mental health struggles—culminating in a several years-long hiatus from music altogether in her mid-to-late 20s—prevented her from ever taking the full leap. Everything changed in 2021 when her longtime friend Jackson Emmer called her up and implored her to come out to Colorado and record her backlog of original songs with him. Tranbaugh hit the road and spent a week with Emmer in his home studio, resulting in Quarter Life Crisis Haircut, her comeback EP released in April 2022. Bouncing between witty sarcasm and heartbreaking vulnerability, the songs tackled a wide range of topics including her sixth grade queer awakening, an awkward run-in with an old acquaintance, and the impossibility of true folk music authenticity in our modern age. Listening back to the finished product, she began to feel the flickers of confidence again.
Tranbaugh’s music became even more powerful when she reunited with bassist Joe Plowman and guitarist Kevin Brosky, two old friends from her Temple University house show scene days. Plowman introduced drummer Adam Shumski, and the group instantly re-energized Tranbaugh’s musical instincts, with old songs gaining new life and new songs blossoming with lush arrangements. The supercharged group hit the Philly music scene and established themselves as local favorites, garnering praise from WXPN and drawing enthusiastic crowds.
In July 2022, Tranbaugh's queer Americana heartbreaker "Kiss You" was awarded Song of the Year in the John Lennon Songwriting Contest, which came with a $20,000 cash prize. She used the money to fly her band out to Los Angeles to record five songs with Grammy-winning producer Tyler Chester (Madison Cunningham, Margaret Glaspy, Watkins Family Hour), which proved to be a life-affirming trip. In March 2023, Tranbaugh released the first song from this new batch, the exuberant long-distance-relationship anthem “Can’t Wait No Rush.” Listeners can expect three more singles this summer and a full EP, entitled Comets, in the fall. The new songs showcase Tranbaugh in her new era: energetic, self-assured, surrounded by her beloved musical community, and more commanding as a vocalist and writer than ever before.
Photos by Danie Harris