May 18, 2013 4:20 PM
Fredericton's mellow-voiced, emotionally-charged bard worked long and hard on this group of songs, after his breakthrough debut False Alarm way back in 2009. That was the album that kept on giving, grabbing him awards, airplay, and exposure on U.S. and Canadian TV shows. In the meantime, he was stockpiling tunes, a rare luxury for performers, who usually have years to prepare their first albums, but then mere months to write enough to follow it up.
In the meantime, Brown's been able to road-test these numbers, and even came upon what he describes as a breakthrough in his songwriting, as found in the title cut. I think he's referring to an emotional directness and clarity, mixed with easily-remembered melodies and a sing-along folk quality. That's all there in Tinman, a heartfelt tune with a catchy groove, a little bit of piano and violin in there, a big hook line in "Too damn young to feel this old", and a big "Na na na" chorus to end on. It sounds good on disc, and even better when the audience joins along.
That's the template for many of the cuts here, whether its the quiet, romantic stuff or the bouncy folk-pop of Lost. These are all complete, tight songs with impact, any one of them able to stand alone as a polished gem, what we'd call a single in another era. After a series of launches around the Maritimes, Brown's now off to Australia where he's been developing a strong rep the past couple of years, and this album should be taking him to a lot of places, including awards podiums.
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Bob Mersereau has been covering music, and the East Coast Music Scene since 1985 for CBC. He's a veteran scene-maker at the ECMA's, knows where the best shows and right parties are happening, and more importantly, has survived to tell the tales. His weekly East Coast music column is heard on Shift on Radio 1 in New Brunswick each Wednesday at 4'45. He's also the author of two national best-selling books, The Top 100 Canadian Albums (2007) and The Top 100 Canadian Singles (2010).