It's become nearly impossible for me to take emerging singer/songwriters seriously with the glut of them playing coffeehouses and self-releasing haphazardly recorded "albums" independently on CDBaby and other internet outlets these days, but every once in awhile something jolts my
jaded indifference and makes me take notice.
Bronwynne Brent's Deep Black Water will dare me to suffer through well-meaning but inspiredpap hoping lightening will strike twice, and it will still be worth it; this is the kind of record music lovers hope and dream is still being made despite evidence to the contrary on mainstream broadcast and even internet outlets.
Brent's voice was strong enough to pierce my resistance but what really won me over was the way its warmth and richness wraps itself around you and adds dimension to the poetry and narratives in her lyrics. In addition to voice and talent, one thing that separates Deep Black Water from the glut of singer/songwriter records is the production and arrangements. Mike McCarthy produced the set and joining Brent on acoustic guitar are Ian McLagan (Small Faces) on organ, Brent's award-winning sister, Eden, on piano, and David Grissom (Joe Ely, John Mellencamp) on guitar.
There's something delicious about opening a record with a gentle, tender song called "Like The Thunder." It's a bold title yet everything about the song save for its heart is small and understated. "Building A Wall" is a stirring piece of countrified folk with weepy steel guitar accents. "Baby We'd Be Fine" echoes classic Carole King combined with a touch of '90s Lilith Fair singer/songwriter aesthetic. "You're The Ocean" works similar terrain and Ricky Ray Jackson adds more gorgeous pedal steel. "Love Like A Web" opens with Brent's voice and her acoustic guitar with subtle steel guitar cries lurking beneath, followed by an electric slide guitar solo that burns slowly, carrying the song to the end. The title track is simple, lovely and heartbreaking.
Adam Duritz said, "The internet is the best thing that has ever happened to music in the history of music," and he's right. Music listeners always had to wade through teeming piles of rubbish to find the gems but had to overcome the additional obstacle of gatekeepers restricting the flow of music and ideas. The web has unleashed a torrent of underwhelming amateurs but it has also given us the power to seek out treasures. Deep Black Water is one of them. - Josh Hathaway