Braden Bales Highlights Honesty in Debut EP Nomad

“How do you feel about Tik Tok?”

Almost immediately during his press conference, Braden Bales was hit with a controversial music industry topic: The highs and lows of promoting on TikTok. But instead of freezing under pressure, he laughed off the question with ease.

Braden Bales, the 21-year-old dropout from Ontario, knows better than most artists when it comes to TikTok promotion. His early song and EP opener, “CHRONICALLY CAUTIOUS,” garnered tens of millions of views due to its catchy nature and call for open verses and duets. After this smart marketing tactic caused the song to blow up, Bales found himself signing a record deal with Geffen Records (the same label that stars such as Olivia Rodrigo work with).

His journey hasn’t been linear though, which he delves into in the debut EP, Nomad. A common theme which many young people can relate to is the idea of being a nomad; no longer feeling at home anywhere and constantly on the move. Living in his car in Los Angeles for a period of time before moving to Nashville in pursuit of his record deal, Bales brings a new definition to the typical nomad imagery.

Braden Bales’ trailer for the EP, Nomad.

As a debut project, Bales had the opportunity to truly establish his sonic goals and give listeners a glance into his style – which is exactly what he did.

Opening the EP with the well-known and loved “CHRONICALLY CAUTIOUS” guarantees an easy hook into the new project. The song contains hints of Chelsea Cutler, QUINN XCII and other emotional, pop-style singer songwriters, while the classic song structure helps keeps the listener interested. Moving from this hit into the previously release single, “PICK ME UP,” Bales sings of discomfort around his peers and missing home, following that nomadic theme of feeling displaced. It has the same sonic integrity emphasizes a common theme emerging in Bales’ early discography, though “PICK ME UP” felt very young compared to some of the more mature songs on the record. Regardless, this nice sonic cohesion makes it easy to enjoy the time spend within Nomad.

The real standouts of the EP wrap up the project instead. “FAIRWEATHER FRIENDS,” which Bales admitted is a favorite of his, details the metaphor-filled journey of losing friends. The gut-wrenching, acoustic song highlights Bales’ vocal talent as he explains how this loss in your young years repeals a level of innocence you’ll never experience again. This enlightening track, however, being between two sonically similar songs didn’t seem to make sense to me, though it didn’t make me enjoy it any less.

Finally, Nomad wraps up with another catchy pop track called “ROI“, which mirrors “CHRONICALLY CAUTIOUS” in it’s honesty and QUINN XCII-sonic-style. One of my favorite tracks, although the finance references mostly float right over my head. Ending with “CHRONICALLY CAUTIOUS – Stripped“, I was pleasantly surprised at the gentle nature of a previously sharp song. This nice change of pace shows the versatility Bales posesses as an artist; It also inspires curiosity for further acoustic or stripped songs to diversify his discography.

It’s easy to be charmed by Bales’ authentic EP trailer, and hard to get the catchy beats and rhymes out of your head. Bales has immense untapped talent that, with further refining, can help him rise within the singer songwriter hemisphere. His typically lonely phonetic writing style has been disrupted with greater structure when signing to his label (which he admits is a new challenge and blessing alike). With time and guidance, Braden Bales will become the new hot topic on the block.

Words by Patti Doud, photos by Geffen Records

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