Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Reviews:: Brett Dennen So Much More

Singer songwriters heavily influenced by Paul Simon are roughly the equivalent of highly touted high school quarterbacks who commit to Notre Dame. For every successful QB – like Brady Quinn or Jarious Jackson who reps it up here in the CFL – you have a bucketful of disappointments like Ron Powlus’ or people that have been converted to WR.

The same holds true for singers, as for every person who tries to channel Simon’s global vision of Graceland, you get hundreds of musicians who have a catchy riff or two that are only ever heard by a few listeners at an open mic night.

One artist who delivers the goods is Brett Dennen. This red-headed youngen’ manages to use elements made popular by Paul Simon, but his unique voice and arrangements sets him apart from the other people trying the same things. He blends reggae, pop, folk, and country effortlessly, and that is perhaps the biggest factor to why he sounds so fresh. Never does a note sound forced, or manufactured. His songs are an extension of who he is, rather than an extension of what he thinks the masses want to hear (I mean, he throws in an almost Southern gospel church sing-along at the end of When You Feel It). His lyrics are insightful, and his soulful, staccato delivery will draw comparisons to Amos Lee.

On the opener – Ain’t No Reason – Dennen let’s his thoughts drift to the world around him. Why do we choose to live as we do? Can love save us? These questions are ones we all ask. Stylistically his songs jump around so smoothly and consistently you have trouble placing his sound into a typical genre. The pleasant pop sounds of There’s So Much More mesh with a nice subtle steel to create a smooth flowing track.

Rather than spend his days only waxing philosophical, Dennen jumps into the role of unassuming crooner with empathizing love ditties like Darlin’ Do Not Fear and Because You Are A Woman. Darlin’ Do Not Fear is the most Simon-esque track, evoking global sounds perfectly, with a bouncy bass riff and marching drums that transport you into an island vibe. The summery vibe of She’s Mine highlights another side of Dennen’s arsenal. He exposes a playful side, with a soulful vocal line that will surely become a crowd sing-along.

The reggae fueled The One Who Loves the Most lets Dennen channel another obvious influence, one Robert Marley (as does Someday). The nice thing about his sound is that it is truly his. Sure you can make comparisons to all these other great artists, but instead of claiming him to be a sound-alike or a commercial product, you simply listen happily. He questions political actions (I Asked When), but openly looks for that perfect love. Essentially, his sound is so accessible because this home schooled wonder is asking the same questions we all are.

People who hear this music will quickly become engrossed, claiming him to be the next big thing – opening for people like John Mayer and Sheryl Crow obviously will speed up that process. Much like Jack Johnson, Dennen’s songs will hit home with a larger audience without alienating the ones who already love his work. To write such great songs at such a young age is a talent, one I expect to be hearing for a very long time.

MP3::She's Mine

Posted at 1:03 PM by ack :: 0 comments

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