Brown Kid – Rusty Strings


A unique artistic sensibility is increasingly difficult to find, but listeners unfamiliar with Brown Kid will likely be immediately taken by the signature quality of Brown Kid’s Rusty Strings opener “Welcome to My Funeral”. It’s written from the deceased’s point of view and has a streamlined precision, acoustic in nature,  sounding breezy and effortless. Brown Kid handles the majority of lead vocals for the song, but there’s some key backing vocals along the way that enrich the listening experience. “La Farra” is extraordinarily propulsive given the acoustic foundations of the tune and the tight, popping quality of the guitar work never falters while maintaining an impressive pace. Brown Kid’s voice is pleasing without ever being technically gifted and strikes an immensely likable stance for listeners.

“Hole in the Wall” continues the same acoustic based attack, albeit slowing things down some, but there’s still much of the same trademark energy defining the first two songs percolating through this performance. The vocals have a softer spin here than they do with the opening numbers and Brown Kid’s vocal melody matches up nicely with the arrangement. “Jamaicamecrazy” refers to the “take it as it comes” attitude of the Jamaican people and he captures the mood with the sort of easy going confidence indicative of his relaxed approach to music making in general. Brown Kid wisely never over-exaggerates the song’s musical influences but, instead, offers listeners what’s essentially his own individualistic riff on the style.

The light hip hop influence working its way into the title song gives it more of that same unique spin characterizing the release as a whole. “Rusty Strings” elicits great vocals from Brown Kid that have a luxurious, slowly unwinding quality worth repeated listens. His experience shines through here, as well, after the cumulative effect of five successive songs in the same musical mold makes it clear Brown Kid entered the studio with a fully realized conception of what Rusty Strings needed to sound like.

The easy amble of the EP finale “Complacency” is a perfect closer and Brown Kid’s gliding vocal performance vibes well with the guitar work. He definitely deserves the label singer/songwriter or folk musician but, ultimately, these are just songs – not a type, just musical expression designed to entertain audiences and fulfill his inner needs. It’s a lyrical high point of the EP and gains much from the cool, intelligent phrasing Brown Kid brings to the composition. Recorded in Nashville, Tennessee, Music City U.S.A., Brown Kid’s Rusty Strings doesn’t sound like some holding action to distract us from the absence of a full length effort. Instead, the EP sounds like a major work packed into a brief recording duration. Brown Kid solidifies his standing as one of the best stylists in popular music today that transmutes powerful musical influences into a work that’s all his own and bears every mark of his personality.

Sebastian Cole