Black Music Matters Festival

Paul Brandt

Outside the Frame – 1997 (Warner)

Reviewed by Brian Wahlert

CDs by Paul Brandt

From its first strains of organ through its infectious lyric about a man who can't make himself settle down, Paul Brandt's smash debut "My Heart Has a History" was one of the best singles of 1996. Now he's back with his sophomore album, and he mines the same territory as on his first: country-rock songs of love and lost love. The drums and electric guitars are always loud, the lyrics are always catchy (if sometimes inane), and Brandt's voice is always strong.

"We Are the One" is a quietly powerful midtempo love song featuring Kathy Mattea's warm voice singing backup while "A Little in Love" and "One" sound an awful lot like "My Heart Has a History." The perfect interplay between fiddle, organ, mandolin, electric guitar, and the background singers' gentle "oohs" on "I Believe You" is a testament to producer Josh Leo's ability to mix traditional country sounds and a twist of rock into something fresh and new.

This album is a little bit country, a lot not, but it sure sounds good.