CHARLES K. BROWN
Ear 2 the Ground Audio
Review by Adiv Abramson
Over two years in the making, Charlie K Brown's inaugural CD presents an engaging mix of folk, pop and country musical styles delivered with pathos, passion and power. The CD opens with "To Love Again", its strongest track. This wistful tune penned by Charlie, has all the ingredients of a major commercial hit: a memorable hook, strong melody, eminently singable lyrics and soulful vocals. Dan Zook's sax solo enhances the song with a wonderful, earthy R & B texture. It's quite unusual for a CD to treat the listener to the very best it has to offer right at the start but the subsequent tracks are well worth a listen and deliver solid entertainment.
"The Vigil", the second track on the CD is one of several that deal with the prevalent theme of love and betrayal and the aftermath of a broken relationship. The tune's ephemeral quality is enhanced thanks to the multilayered backing vocals of Kendall Kelly and Namoli Brennet.
The CD"s third track is a bawdy, lusty, hard rocking track entitled "Moody Woo". Veteran rock guitarist Tommy Johns provides the sonic ammunition that propels this track from beginning to end. Brown uses an interesting rhyming scheme in which every verse ends in the same vowel sound. Perhaps the most anthemic of the tracks on this CD, "Moody Woo" is a guaranteed crowd pleaser.
"For My Best Friend" is a contemplative acoustic track expressing thanks for the gift of true friendship. Jay Freeman's percussive accompaniment works well with the haunting melody.
"Talk Too Much Blues" is easily the funkiest track on the CD with all kinds of sonic goodness, from Charlie's gritty vocals and hard edged lyrics to Tommy John's stellar plucking to the sassy backing vocals served up by Freddy Freeman, who produced this CD, and Jay Freeman.
For an authentic taste of country and western, "Into the Dusk" is a must. Ed Moseley's plaintive fiddling pairs nicely with Frank Bright's work on the Dobro to make this torch song especially compelling.
Perhaps the most thematically disturbing track on the CD, "Stanley" speaks of a locked down love. From the opening clank of a jail cell and the whistled motif, the listener is drawn deep into a tale of forbidden love. A persistent hip-hop beat adds tension to this dark, brooding tune that makes it the most unusual composition in this collection.
"Bittersweet Refrain" is a tearful, pining ballad of a longed for love. Accompanied only by piano, Charlie delivers a poignant performance that shows him at his most vulnerable. Perhaps no other track conveys a depth of feeling as well as this one and the listener is sure to return to it repeatedly to appreciate its power.
"Time After Time" is a pleasant cover of the Cyndi Lauper hit that for me is more enjoyable than the original.
Grab your surfboard and your significant other and ride a wave of musical nostalgia with Charlie's cheeky rendition of the Carole King penned "Keep Your Hands Off My Baby." Freddy and Jay provide the requisite doo wop's while Tommy Johns' guitar chops grace yet another track on this CD.. Sha-la-la-licious!
The eponymous track "Trouble Is" closes out this collection with lush instrumentation and full backing vocals. This short piece speaks of trials of life on the road and the longing for a more settled existence.
"Trouble Is" is a strong first effort by seasoned bear musician, lyricist, composer and vocalist Charlie K Brown. Take the time to give it a listen. You'll be entertained, surprised and challenged with no trouble at all.