Initial Reactions (2011): Joe Henry, Frank Turner, Middle Brother


Joe Henry – Reverie – (ind): I don’t get it. It’s all very artistic sounding, excellent in appearance, jazzy, smoky, sultry, deeper than you’ll ever hope to be, but it’s so slick and smooth on the surface that I can’t find a foothold. I have this gut-level feeling that Joe is thinking to himself "Behold my musicianship – let me cast my spell over you." Maybe the guy could lighten up? Look, if you dig this, then fantastic. I just find it dense and forgettable. ("Odetta")

Frank Turner – England Keep My Bones – (++): Pleasantly surprised by this one. Billy Bragg’s younger, spoon-fed brother. Big, catchy rock tunes likened to rowdy pub sing-alongs, and he’s definitely a gifted lyricist, although I will say that he leans towards a heavy moralism that I find disappointing. Gotta mention that "There is no God" song – I was thinking that it might be a response to this. FT is the same guy who wrote these lyrics. Puzzling…

Middle Brother – Middle Brother – (++): Well, I loved Dawes’ latest, so more Taylor Goldsmith is OK by me. All in all, strong songwriting, though I’m not as crazy about the dude with the gravely voice. It does have a nice sort of oldies radio feel at times, but it’s not particularly earth-shattering otherwise. What you get: big tunes, big melodies, big voices. All in all, a worthwhile listen. ("Thanks for Nothing", "Me Me Me")

REACTION KEY

[!!!!!]: Enthusiastic. Frequent rotation. A buyer. Contender for year’s best.
[++]: Positive. Good stuff. Possible grower?
[ind]: Indifferent.. Underwhelmed. I don’t expect to come back to this one.
[—]: Negative. A real screw-up. Don’t even bother.

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