Thursday, April 26, 2007

Reviews:: Cary Brothers Who You Are

Who You Are is the best title Cary Brothers could have chosen for his debut record. That reason is sadly obvious and limiting; people heard one of his songs and constantly try to tell Cary who he is. Most people know him (or think Cary Brothers is actually a band made up of two brothers) from his appearances on Zach Braff soundtracks and assume he is simply a soundtrack artist. Ride and Blue Eyes pop up on countless IPODs as a result.

Ironically, Cary’s actually done a lot to downplay the notoriety he gained from his soundtrack success (especially since I think those two songs pale in comparison to some of the other tracks on this record). Instead of pushing forward to grab his fifteen minutes, Cary worked on his material, self-released a couple of strong EPs, and toured the hell out of his songs supporting some huge acts.

I think that despite all the stereotypes and assumptions, what is most important about his music is that he is the type of singer-songwriter who you hear and undoubtedly ask “who is this?” Who You Are is beautiful in its simplicity. Instead of trying to be something he’s not, Cary focuses on delicate melodies with an underlying Brit-pop influence. The result is a collection of songs that are rich in emotions and layers. He writes the type of songs every songwriter wants to write. Instead of trying to escape the songwriter mantra, Cary seems to embrace it. All too often people throw out the description – the soundtrack to your life – and in most cases the term is simply a way of cheating the artist of a fair description. Brothers writes songs that you can relate too, but life sadly, is not a movie and I’d be surprised if Brothers wants his music digested that way. The record is more than a collection of three minute moments.

His songs usually stand firmly planted in the mellow, emotive realm, but Brothers splices in a few soaring, dreamy uptempo tracks like Ride and The Last One (both of which use nice drum machine riffs to mimic the synth dance numbers of the late 80s) to keep the record moving. But, it’s songs like Honesty and Precious Lies that hit with the most power. Using hushed guitars and strings, simple piano lines, and delicate atmospheric currents, he let’s his voice power through and draw you in. It’s the type of record you find yourself reaching for, no matter what your mood.

And… without back tracking too much, one of the biggest surprises I found on the album is the destined to be in a movie or TV show cover of the Thompson Twins. Being a young teen in the late 80’s – not born in them like so many bloggers - and being married to someone who can identify 80’s music and cinema like Rainman counts cards, I couldn’t help but think of Samantha and Jake Ryan outside of the church when the opening notes of If You Were Here played. The subtle nod to the 80’s British music scene is prominent in Cary’s songs, and the sincerity in which he plays this cover really cements his influences.

Don’t be fooled into thinking this is just another singer / songwriter, coffee shop record. It’s much more than that without trying to be, and that makes it the record that much better.

MP3:: Who You Are
Video:: Ride

Posted at 12:40 PM by ack :: 0 comments

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