Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Slant 6 Mind
Genres: Country, Folk, Pop
With very little fanfare, Iowa-based Greg Brown has quietly put together one of the finest singer/songwriter careers of his generation. Perhaps he's ignored because he's neither as sentimental as our "sensitive" singer/son... more »
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With very little fanfare, Iowa-based Greg Brown has quietly put together one of the finest singer/songwriter careers of his generation. Perhaps he's ignored because he's neither as sentimental as our "sensitive" singer/songwriters nor as overstated as our "innovative" artists. Instead he writes understated, unflinchingly honest, unromantic stories about working-class folks in the Midwest and then delivers these songs in a gravelly baritone filled with hints of Dylanesque folk, Delta blues, and Hank Senior honky-tonk. His 13th album, Slant 6 Mind, pulls off the devilish trick of mixing jokes and despair--often in the same song. The album's title comes from the first song, "Whatever It Was," a laundry list of all the things that have gone from good to worse in America. There's genuine anger in the way he describes farmland chopped into housing developments, main streets turned into ghost towns and conversation replaced by TV and the Internet. And yet he is surely chuckling when he delivers such punch lines as, "She says, `Come hither,' but when I get hither she is yon," and "It's been quite a week, there was a drive-by shooting in Lake Wobegon." The reason these jokes work so well is that Brown sings them in the same deadpan drawl that he does his fiercest indictments. He respects the intelligence of his listeners enough to assume we'll be able to tell the difference. And because he allows us the pleasure of deciphering his songs ourselves, we learn how anger, hope, and humor are not opponents so much as partners. Many songwriters have paid tribute to Robert Johnson, but few have captured the mystery and power of that legendary bluesman as Brown does on "Dusty Woods." Kelly Joe Phelps's slide guitar lends a Delta blues feel to several other songs, and there's an eerie mystery as well to songs such as "Speaking in Tongues," a sincere tribute to holy-roller churches, and "Billy from the Hills," a tribute to his backwoods father. Many of 1997's albums are more obvious than Slant 6 Mind, but few have been as substantial. --Geoffrey Himes
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Possibly Greg's best album
R. Hutchinson | a world ruled by fossil fuels and fossil minds | 12/26/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is Greg Brown's best yet! He turned some sort of corner with Further In (96), some sort of move toward the older, wiser and more moving, but with Slant 6 Mind he has produced his masterpiece. I saw him with Bo Ramsey at the U. of Utah this fall, and it was amazing to hear the sound produced by just the two of them. Bo watches the strings as he plays bluesy electric guitar, and so his cowboy hat is always low over his face and he bobs and weaves around so energetically on his skinny legs, it's a wonder he doesn't fall over. The album starts out strong with the title track, a bitter attack on the commodification of everything: "I was looking for what I loved... Whatever it was, it's gone." The best song, and the album's centerpiece, is "Billy From the Hills," for and about Greg's father. What is celebrated here is a life of integrity, a real life close to the land:
"You can strip the trees, foul the streams, try to hide in progressive dream, ease into the comfort that kills. Before I do that, I'll grab my pack and disappear with Billy from the hills."
Greg's father was a preacher, and despite Greg's humor and earthiness, he is clearly passing on some strong moral teaching.
If you appreciate great lyrics, idiosyncratic vocal styles, and a social conscience -- the genre founded founded by Bob in the 60s -- check out my "Dylanites of Recent Times" list, and several more reviews. Some of the others included are Stan Ridgway, Peter Case, Steve Earle, Jim Page, Bill Morrissey, Tom Petty, Chris Smither, Butch Hancock, Elvis Costello, Dave Alvin and Richard Thompson."
Powerful. Intense. Midwestern.
Alan Ellis (firstname.lastname@example.org) | Raleigh, NC | 12/11/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Want to know what life in the small-town Midwest feels like? This album catches the feel of my childhood in Minnesota and Iowa completely. This is easily one of the best albums I've ever listened to. The music hits you like a massive hammer, knocks you down and leaves you hungry for more."
Great music, lyrics, and creativity with an edge.
A.Trendl HungarianBookstore.com | 10/15/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This CD has not left my 5 disk carrousel in the 8 months I've owned it. Greg Brown is amazingly creative--at times deeply reflective while wonderfully funny at others. The music is intelligent and sincere. Greg Brown is an American treasure in my opinion. To know him is to love him, as they say. Additionally, the recording quality is excellent."