"What Brings You" is the fitting title of the first single from Kris Gruen’s highly anticipated globe-trotting album of co-written songs, Coast & Refuge. Gathering the talents of accomplished writers and producers from around the world for his fourth full length release, Coast & Refuge promises to be Gruen’s return to opulent and muscular indie-pop, and if "What Brings You" is any indication of what’s to follow, it seems he’s made good on his word.
"What Brings You" is one of four songs on Coast & Refuge that Gruen wrote with LA producer, Brad Gordon. Gordon’s regular collaborations as a performer with Dan Wilson (Semisonic, Adele) and cult indie favorites The Weepies, and his studio work for artists such as Brett Dennon and Vance Joy has reached many millions of ears. His earthy production here gives the song an inviting, instant familiarity, both meditative yet explosively celebratory.
That sense of having heard "What Brings You" would be stronger for those who may have unknowingly come across it in an award winning American Eagle Outfitters spot in the months just following its recording. Oddly enough, the gorgeous commercial was shot in the same landscape that the song was written in— the California coast line between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara—and chronicles (in slow motion sanctity) an introspective, honey-drizzled day in the lives of a diverse group of uncommonly beautiful young people. Like a brand new pair of jeans, the song is an anthem for wanderlust and self-assuredness, adventure and discovery. A sonic and lyrical foray between the secretive and the gushing, there’s an inner conversation in the verses about “home” being wherever we lay our head at night, with gigantic choruses calling for storied hours with friends new and old. The song suggests the journey is the destination.