Brett Vogel – Never Giving Up

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Brett Vogel is obviously positioning himself for a long career. There’s a careful line of development observers can trace from his first album through the continued flowering heard on his new full-length effort, Never Giving Up. While a number of his influences are more modern, Vogel clearly aligns himself artistically with older artists like The Beatles, Neil Young, and Van Morrison. The songs reflect this with their acoustic heartbeats and lyrics that strip his personal life for artistic material and clearly aspire to a poetic quality. This eleven song collection, the product of eight months spent slaving over it in a studio, comes out sounding remarkably mature and collected. However, Vogel is still very much a work in progress and his songs are as well.

His vision seems complete on some occasions. The opening track, “When You’re Lonely”, is a seamless marriage of traditional music elements and modern tempos. There’s no hesitancy here and Vogel sings with self-assurance born of certainty rather than empty stage bravado. “California Take Me Away” is a theatrical, but deeply felt piece that relies a lot on small strokes to fill in its larger picture. Vogel’s vocal is particularly strong here and his emotive edge helps give life to what might otherwise seem like lines of questionable quality. His dramatic gifts are one of the album’s consistent strong points.

“Surcease in Time” ranks as the album’s longest song and, arguably, it’s most ambitious and poetic moment. The lyric is open to a variety of interpretations, but what’s beyond dispute is the tremendous care shown in its construction. It provides a number of interesting moments instrumentally and inspires Vogel to another fine performance. “Painted Skies” has more strong imagery and a pop bounce that gives it additional appeal.

The Chicago native brings things a little close to the bone with “I Miss the Snow”, but the bravery of his homesick confession isn’t off-putting. Instead, the song gives him a chance to show his vulnerability in full with an aching performance, particularly in the soft longing of its chorus. The album’s final track, “The Albatross”, returns Vogel to more poetic territory and the lyrics strike a strong balance between the vague and specific. His dreamy vocal brings Never Giving Up to a relaxed and confident close.

Never Giving Up shows significant progress from his first album and seems like the next logical step in Vogel’s development as an artist. The songwriting continues to deepen and flourish with invention. There are some clichéd moments that will, hopefully, disappear completely with coming efforts, but their appearance here never undermines what is an otherwise solid release.


8 out of 10 stars

Robert E. Fulford