February 2020 was supposed to mark a turning point for Chicago rock band The Million Reasons as they released new “If Not for the Fire” video and played a show at Martyrs’, both featuring lead singer Taylor Brennan as the newest pack member. The quintet – Brennan, featuring Colin Dill, Jason Cillo, Mike Nichols and Ken Ugel – also released four new songs.
But then COVID hit.
After navigating the next two years writing new music, revamping and rejuvenating some pre-COVID tracks, and creating a new home for all four songs on this 2020 EP, The Million Reasons have found a “Haven.”
“At the highest level, it’s about her journey through ups and downs, no matter the obstacles, no matter how long the tumult lasts,” said Brennan, who was responsible for most of the lyricism in the album. “Haven is the place where you finally feel safe. The place where you finally feel at home. The place where you finally feel better. The place where you finally feel like ‘you’.”
The culmination of two years of creating from a distance – during which bassist Nichols moved on to be replaced by Denis Cheng for most live performances – the 11-song release captures the spirit that gave The Million momentum. Reasons before the pandemic, while exploring new musical horizons.
Brennan said “Haven” includes some of the most personal songs he’s ever written, stemming from the struggles he and the band were experiencing at the time. Psychological ups and downs, communication frustration and the trials of creating music from a distance while trying to gel as a band are woven throughout the album.
Intermittently injecting pop and progressive vibes into classic rock songs, music written and recorded by Cillo, Ugel de Schaumburg, Dill, Nichols and Lake Bluff native Cheng sets the arena-ready sound of new tracks and reworked pieces. And though the pieces fit together like a puzzle, each has its own story to tell, hitting listeners in different ways, from the dancing guitars of the sunny “1985” to the beautiful and heartbreaking “No North Star.”
“I got into playing music to try to connect with people in the same way that reflected how my favorite artists always made me feel,” Brennan said. “I hope my lyrics make people feel seen and understood. I hope someone hears ‘If Not for the Fire’ and wonders ‘What lights me up? what inspires and excites me?’ And then they go get it. I hope people hear the love songs and either think, “I got this, I’m so lucky” or, “I won’t settle for anything less than this. guy feels for his person. I ‘I’m going to live like this.’ I hope people hear ‘Shine On’ and want to run through a wall.”