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Greg Brown

Freak Flog – 2011 (Yep Roc)

Reviewed by JP Tausig

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CDs by Greg Brown

Greg Brown's latest is a surprise because many of the songs are done in a two-step style reminiscent of Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Two. Someday House is just such a song with very smart lyrics that are raunchier then Cash's ever were. Still there's captivating gritty sound to Brown's singing that makes you want to hear more.

Many songs have very clean breaks for electric and steel guitar. Let the Mystery Be showcases that along with some acoustic finger-picking and clever lyrics. One instrument starts, then others slide in, and before the song is half over, there's a pleasing full sound to the whole thing. It's an effective way of expression.

Where Brown shines is with blues tunes like Mercy Mercy Mercy where his gravelly story-telling style voice is perfect. It's a song you'd hear at any blues joint or even as a soundtrack for a movie scene.

Brown's lyrics and choice of topics are powerfully written, containing some neat rhymes. But if you're looking for melodic singing, look elsewhere. Brown has a deep dark "speaking-style" voice that suits many of the songs. But on songs like Lovinest One Brown seems to struggle to stay on pitch doing vocal slides that don't seem to work out too well.

Lovers of melodic singing might look elsewhere, but if you love in-your-face lyrics with a lively beat, this will be up your alley.