John Brownlow – The Summertime
Let’s be honest for just a second shall we. I get a lot of albums sent my way for review and I mean a lot. Most of them don’t do anything for me. They don’t always get happily placed in the CD player, but the ones that do usually get a three song stay of execution and generally if they last past that they get my full unadulterated attention. Sometimes I’m hooked from the first track, and that’s precisely what happened when I put the latest release (The Summertime) by Ontario, Canada based Singer-Songwriter-Rocker John Brownlow on. The CD bursts to life with “Burn Hollywood Burn” and its fantastic rocked out sound that follows through with a wonderful sequence of songs, 29 of them to be exact. It twists and turns the way great albums should with a little bit of rock and some other styles throw in when you less expect it.
Comprised of Powerpop, alternative rock, blues and even Bossanova, this CD is a tour of John’s different writing and playing styles. The topics include layoffs, break ups, love and other aspects of life.
I also really like to song line up – the way each song masterfully transitions through to the next creating much in the way of drama. So many bands, artists and record labels get this basic skill so wrong. They fail to listen to the songs at their disposal and seemingly throw the album together without giving it any real thought. I’ve known people who work to formulas making sure that their best songs start and finish the album with the remaining tracks squeezed between in a slapdash fashion. That’s not the case with Brownlow’s music and his latest effort “The Summertime”, in fact each track could probably survive on its own merits, but the album just flows so well. Brownlow could easily be heralded as classic sounding rock but there is so much more to him. I hear Elvis Costello, U2, Elton John, T Bone Burnett. Some pieces stand out like the more appealing to a mass audience “Live Forever”, ”Man In The Mirror” and “Storm Coming”. The strategic interweaving of systemic melody and impressive vocal performances from Brownlow is a delight, but the solid rhythmical foundation of Brownlow is essential to their artistic and commercial potential. The sound is that of the golden era of popular music in the sixties and the seventies when musicianship mattered! But the beauty of this record is the use of all mod-cons forcing Brownlow relevance into the modern world. Brownlow should achieve good support from radio and appears to be critical darlings from all around the world. But I am left bemused how Brownlow is not yet a household name. It’s not a case of all the elements being present but the final product being missing as the songs, the musicianship, the production, and the performance all knit together beautifully-even brilliantly. Maybe I’m lucky enough to be in on the ground floor? Maybe things are just about to kick on for Brownlow.
Whatever it is make sure you get hold of his latest double CD entitled “The Summertime” by John Brownlow – it’s a must have and in the class of all by itself.