Seth Glier on the rise again at the Wheeler Opera House
The Aspen Times
If You Go …
Who: Seth Glier
Where: Wheeler Opera House
When: Saturday, Nov. 4, 7:30 p.m.
How much: $25
Tickets: Wheeler box office; http://www.aspenshowtix.com
Seth Glier has become a familiar face around Aspen. The prolific singer-songwriter’s concert was the centerpiece of the Wheeler Opera House’s grand reopening weekend in January of last year. And in his second return trip to the historic theater since then, Glier will headline the Wheeler’s On the Rise series on Saturday.
The Grammy nominee is touring in support of his new studio album, “Birds.”
Released in August, the new record showcases Glier tackling both the personal and the political in richly produced pop songs. One stand-out track, “Water On Fire” — boasting fuzzed-out guitars, flourishes of synths and howling — is an anti-fracking, anti-capitalist anthem made for our moment. “The water is on fire, what’s it worth to you?” Glier asks in the chorus.
Glier, now 28, has grown out of the confessional, personal songwriting of his earliest work and also built on his stripped-down acoustic style to craft full-bodied and more adventurous songs that often venture beyond the introspective ballads that first drew notice for Glier.
“For a while I was writing only about personal stuff,” Glier said before his swing through Aspen earlier this year. “Then around the time that I was in college I found Randy Newman. It blew me wide open. It was liberating to write about something that I didn’t have to go through. My life got better when I didn’t have to create the drama for me to write about. That was a great lesson.”
Glier has earned an audience with an old-school road warrior approach. Early on, he played as many as 250 shows a year — last year, it was about 160. His songs grow and evolve with repeated live performances, as Glier identifies what works and what doesn’t.
“A song really has to learn how to stand up on its own in front of an audience in a different way than you can fake it with production in the studio,” he said. “There’s a real nakedness about it in front of an audience.”
His mission is about more than music, however. The singer has played free shows at the Aspen Senior Center on previous swings through town. Community service is a centerpiece of making art for Glier, who served as legal guardian for his autistic brother and finds ways to give back while he’s on the road. Those experiences, inevitably find their way into his music.
“There’s been no shortage of things for me to work through,” he said. “With the good songs, when I sit down to write them I don’t know what I’m writing about — I’m writing to figure out how to put words to an emotion that I don’t have a name for yet.”