Saturday, May 19, 2012
MUSIC REVIEW OF THE DAY: MICHAEL JEROME BROWNE - THE ROAD IS DARK
Mostly a solo guitar album, apart from a handful of well-chosen guests spots, Browne's full guitar sound is all the instrumentation we need. He's a busy player in the good sense, lots of complicated picking, slides, and solos on the top strings with the rhythm on the bottom. He finds a different great sound for each tune, using a variety of vintage instruments and amps, echo and tone a big part of it all. Another aspect of the disc sees him following the connections between blues and bluegrass on several songs, adding old-time elements such as banjo, mandolin and a fine bluesy fiddle from Michael Ball on the 1929 cut Right Now Blues.
The covers are juicy, an obscure Flatt and Scruggs number, a J.B Lenoir I didn't know (The Whale Has Swallowed Me), and none of the usual suspects. Plus, Browne's ability to conjure (with lyricist Bee Markus) classic-flavoured originals, such as Sinner's Plea and Graveyard Blues, makes each song on the album a discovery; there's not a track here that feels like the same old blues everybody is doing, and that is a rare treat.