Stardust by David James Innes March 31, 2014 VIEW
Recent months have been remarkable for releases by female artists who do something a little different.
We’ve been charmed by Laura Cortese’s string-driven lushness and ear for the narrative with the release of Into The Dark and stopped in our tracks by Liz Lenten and Auburn’s dramatic genre-amalgam Nashville. Now, from the Mississippi Delta, Bronwynne Brent places her second album Stardust before us, and it too makes that ‘sit up and listen’ demand.
Bronwynne confesses that “she enjoys a minor key” and whilst that may suggest downbeat melancholy, that’s not the overall impression left by Stardust. Rather, from the torrid tales of relationships gone wrong, promises broken and emotional betrayal, Bronwynne seems to derive some sort of resilient strength and fortitude.
“I keep my heart now deep inside
It left a scar I cannot hide
But I will live to love again”
she confides in us in ‘Don’t Tell Your Secrets To The Wind’, a drama-laden Jaques Brel-esque mid-album chanson, where a friend has snared her lover, the heartless strumpet.
Johnny Sangster brings the best from Bronwynne’s top class material via his production and sparing but sympathetic heavily-reverbed baritone guitar, and the arrangements are a delight, ranging from the syncopated Jerry Allison cardboard box drumming on ‘The Mirror’ to the lush, brooding strings of ‘When You Said Goodbye’.
The vocal delivery, though, is what overwhelmingly captures listener attention. From beginning to end Bronwynne bares her soul, her vulnerable resignation and wretchedness via a voice that is timeless in timbre and phrasing, recalling in turn Sarah Vaughan, Peggy Lee and the ill-starred Amy Winehouse, much better company to be in than some of the scoundrels who have broken her heart.