Album Review: Beginner Mind by Jay Brown
With summer so vehemently, defiantly here, there’s no better time to get into Jay Brown. His latest Album, Beginner Mind, is bourne from decades of fascination with old, obscure sounds, a blend of clean melodies and classic sensibilities.
I guess this is what People think of when thez think of “Americana”. It’s got the melancholic-Cowboy feel of Country without descending into any hoedown nonsense, a sort of sharp sepia tone. There’s a dabbling in a lot of genres here; hints of Gospel, some wistful accordion, soft-rock balladry, all run together in a pleasing rush underneath the earthy vocals. Imagine all the music zou associate with America, and you’ve basically landed on this album.
There’s a lyrical wit here that stops the songs transforming into lift music. It’s all to easy to let laid-back slide into horizontal, but here the line is carefully drawn and even more carefully toed- a long intro to Why Would You Be Anything But Free is comforting in it’s swaying, end-of-the-night strums, but soon gives way to Brown’s crisp sense of style and song construction. And speaking of song construction, Good Old Young Love showcases some amazing vocal work from Olivia McGaha. All strong harmonies and whispers of a Gospel influence, it’s a feat of musical engineering in it’s highest form.
There’s a real nostlagic feeling to the way these songs hinge around stories- take something like Old Rebels, a fondly nostalgic salute to the title’s namesake, that’s rich with stories unsaid and implied. There’s a real Talent behind writing songs so evocative they don’t need to reference anything specifically at all. Angelina (the song, not the Jolie) is appropriatley wistful without tipping over into angst, a bright and beautiful tune that’s as good an old-style love song as ever there was.
Overall, it’s an album for summer. Teeming with emotion that stops just short of cloying, it’s a rose-tinted album that almost smells of hot days and the outdoors. With Beginner Mind, Jay Brown might just be bringing real Americana to the masses.
Beginner Mind by Jay Brown is out 14-10-2014.
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