We Were Young
Very Classy Debut From Alt. Pop Singer-Songwriter.
So much music lands on the RMHQ doorstep that it can become very difficult to choose what to listen to and then review. Obviously some artists and labels will always take preference but occasionally I fancy a lucky-dip and randomly pick out a couple of CDs to take on a car journey; such was the case with We Were Young, the debut album from Billings, Montana bass player Parker Brown.
The first couple of songs were actually passing me by but I noticed Mrs. Magpie tapping her hand on her thigh along with the beat; meaning they had passed the first and most difficult test in the business.
I put the first track People Watching back on and took a deeper interest in proceedings. A bit more commercial and possibly ‘AOR’ than I would normally listen to; the Brown’s voice had a certain timbre that reminded me of those early Jackson Browne and Graham Nash albums that I pored over in my teenage bedroom.
As a professional studio musician and guitar/bass teacher it’s no surprise that each song is meticulously constructed and the playing is nothing short of perfect; but Brown’s songwriting is quite remarkable; he can tell a story in a way I’ve not heard a lot of since those heady days of the Brill Building.
Summer Day sounds like a charming bittersweet love song until you peel away the layers and a much darker tale lies beneath the surface; plus it has a magnificent Rhodes solo in the middle.
Hand Me Downs is a good old fashioned Soft Rocker in the style of Stevie Winwood, if any of you can remember him or Billy Joel when he was cool.
Once I’d ‘got into the album’ I too found myself tapping my toes; which isn’t always a good thing when that foot is on the accelerator!
The title track We Were Young is a really classy AOR song that would easily have been a ‘Radio Hit’ back in the 80’s or 90’s but today possibly needs stripping back a bit; possibly losing the tsch-tsch drumbeat but that could just be me, as Mrs. Magpie gave me a ‘look’ when I had the audacity to suggest such a crazy thing.
Now we are home two songs really, really stand out. Another Man’s Blues is a cool smoky late at night Jazzy/Blues crossover that showcases Brown’s sweet and expressive voice; while Hold On Sam was an expression we kept using all weekend as my Grandson Sam, kept walking and talking at 110mph! Even without that caveat this is a companion piece for Another Man’s Blues and best listened to with the lights turned down low and your mood on the right side of miserable.
Parker Brown has been around for a long time on the local music scene; and I’m not sure he intends this album being the gateway to International stardom but there are more than enough absorbing and interesting songs hear to bare repeated listening and make me want to hear a more stripped back second album.
Released September 2016