Reviews

Nigel Brown – Looking For the Rising Sun

Folk Radio UK

 

Based in London, Nigel Brown has had a lengthy career as a film and TV soundtrack composer, largely for Sky and the Discovery Channel, as well as three albums of library music used across most of the mainstream channels. He also records his own material as a singer-songwriter, Looking For The Rising Sun being his eighth self-released collection.

Although you’ll hear influences that range from folk to blues to country, the most obvious reference point here is Sgt Pepper era Beatles, case in point being the title track opener, a song about looking forward rather than looking back, its chiming melody and mellifluous vocals swathed in sweeping strings. Having advocated this, however, he ignores his own advice with Safe as Home, a lushly arranged reflection on more innocent times with a melody and smooth vocal that reminds me of the dreamier numbers of 10cc. Sticking with that reference point, Walls of Sanity, an evocation of a one street American town,  has a more urgent, rockier drive, again recalls 10cc though is also oddly reminiscent of  Deep Purple’s Black Night.

Written for his late father and built upon the electric piano, Wide Was The Sky is another dreamy track, a meeting between McCartney and Brian Wilson with some noodling guitar lines towards the fade. Evocative of early Simon & Garfunkel, the folksy finger picking five-minute No One Listens affords the album its political comment with references to surveillance drones and cameras and divided society, moving on to two numbers about, as Jennifer Rush would put it, the power of love,  the 96 seconds acoustic finger picked Only Love and the melodically engaging  strummed Shield My Flame with double-tracked harmonies and descending electric guitar chords.

Another issues-led track, Angry Eyes is a strummed, close harmony mid-tempo 70s-styled ballad  about walking out on an abusive relationship, the album taking the upbeat path for the last two songs, the heady warm skies pastoral mood of Summer Rose, written for his daughter, and Hide Out, written for and about a friend living the peaceful,  reclusive  life in Brown’s own original stomping grounds of the Dartmoor hills, drawing a line under things with Sky High, a 56 second resonator guitar instrumental that had me thinking of Bert Weedon. You’ll have to make an effort to see this out, but, if you share similar musical sensibilities, it will be well worth it.

Mike Davies

www.folkradio.co.uk

Time Looks On (2015)

Time Looks On is the new sixth studio album from the London based singer-songwriter and guitarist Nigel Brown. The one thing which becomes quickly apparent on first listen is that Nigel is a very talented guitarist. 'Time Looks On' has a real crafted retro feel about it and is very enjoyable. It is in places a very personal and reflective album, looking back at Nigel's life, family and experiances.  Musically it reminds us of a fusion of the Laurel Canyon music of the late 60's/early 70's, Pink Floyd and the later works of the Beatles. It is certainly an album that is worthy of your time. 

http://www.laurelcanyonuk.com/
Mother Ivey (2014)

"Mother Ivey" is the third album from Nigel Brown that I've reviewed over the years and I would suggest that this is his most accessible to date. That's not to say that there aren't tracks on this album that still need to grow on you, there are, but there is a lot more here to lure the casual listener in and make them want to spend time with the album.

I think that may be down to the Nigel allowing a few more film and tv soundtrack foibles to creep into his songwriting. They are two different disciplines, unlike songwriting, soundtrack does have to be of the here and now. If people aren't getting it to all intents and purposes, the moment has gone and left a taste of disappointment. In theory songwriter and songs should have an opportunity to grow as they are more than a veneer, a lot of the better ones have depth.

"Mother Ivey" strikes a nice middle ground, ground with songs split across accessibility and narrative. To me the key that holds "Mother Ivey" together is that the easily accessible songs aren't superficial, they also have a strength to them that means they remain with you and most importantly they are just as valid once the rest of the album comes into focus, a process that takes less time than it has with previous cuts.

The sound, predominantly folk rock and blues rock, with a few variations, isn't far from hid previous albums, but feels a bit more rounded and the riffs seem more at home and all that seems to have been achieved without selling out the social justice sensibilities that for the core of many of Brown's songs.

Whilst it easier to get into "Mother Ivey", it is an album that has much to reveal on subsequent plays, it is one that is there for the long term. Music and narrative are really gelling here so definitely worth a punt.

Neil King

www.fatea-records.co.uk
Sleepwalking Home (2013)

For all its current ills, there is still a lot to be grateful to the internet for. The impact that the medium has had on music is almost in calculable, both good and bad. For me one of the best of the goods is the way that it has opened up the world to local artists.

Case in point, Nigel Brown. "Sleepwalking Home" is a well written, well produced album that bounces around the edge of the folk/blues. It's an album of strong songs, both personal and picking up on wider, more political issues.

Brown shows that he's no slouch either as a performer or writer. The two different takes at "Our Time Square", show an artist with a good sense of perception. Like I've always said that no two people at the same festival experience the same festival, Brown takes that a step forward, by applying it to places visited by people that know each other, a shared experience from different angles.

"Sleepwalking Home" is a strong cut. Nigel Brown is an artist that has a vision that can be appreciated by a wider audience and now thanks to the internet and social networks, I can suggest you check this one out and introduce you to an artist you might otherwise have missed

www.fatea-records.co.uk
World on Fire (2012)

Nigel Brown is a London based singer songwriter whose ambition has always been to write great songs, songs that had meaning and survive the test of time. Inspired by the likes of Bob Dylan his latest album has brought him several steps closer to that dream.

‘World on Fire’ is Nigel Brown’s latest and his most noteworthy release to date. He deserves high praise for all the instruments he plays on the album, with his son providing drum tracks. It is in the simple arrangements, harmonies and poignant lyrics that this album really shines. Throughout the lyrics are lifted into prominence, a winning factor that has helped the success of many from the likes of Nick Drake to Simon and Garfunkle.

Gone Bad is just one of the highlights on the album that amplifies that whole feel of the album. it has a timeless quality that crosses somewhere between Laurel Canyon inspired choruses and classic 70′s British Folk. He is a deceivingly good artist where subtlety and simplicity win every time.

www.folkradio.co.uk
Soldier  (2010)

UK singer-songwriter Nigel Brown is used to being the guy behind the scenes. As the music supervisor for numerous libraries and television networks, including Discovery and Sky, Brown’s got the experience adapting music to visual images. If you’ve been in London and watched television for a bit, chances are you’ve heard some of the musician’s work without even knowing it. After three instrumental albums for TV, Soldier represents Brown’s first foray in singer-songwriter territory and its consequential limelight. On the title track, Brown plaintively sings “I was looking for something to believe but they’ve taken my religion, turned it upside down and they burned all the houses to the ground.” Overall, Soldier balances mournful elegies with ballads, showing Brown to be a powerful new voice as able in front of the camera as behind it.

Jason Newman - Limewire Store