One and All
Red House Records
4 stars (out of 5)
Recorded quickly and mostly live in the studio, Pieta Brown’s latest album is also her most expansive.
A mid-western Gauthier housing the heart of a dust-road philosopher, Brown writes and sings of human frailties and fragilities with forthright simplicity that disguises the visionary and lyrical approach to her craft.
As on previous albums and EPs, Brown’s observations are compelling in their blending of words and instrumentation. While one may follow the flowing narratives of her songs, one needn’t. No matter what she is singing, the sound of her voice is utilized like an instrument to complement her musicians.
Lyrically, Brown isn’t afraid of minimalism. “Prayer of roses, petals and thorns, and the heat on my skin now where my shirt is torn,” reveals openness to the pains accompanying commitment. In “Faller” Brown identifies “a crowd of people” in the face of a stranger and recalls that “there are no words inside the rain.”
“El Guero”, the centerpiece to her previous release Shimmer, is reinterpreted as a ballsy rocker that wouldn’t be out of place on a Sheryl Crow album. “Grass Among the Hills” quietly and succinctly identifies the mystery of modern times conflicting with timeless traditions where “future shock can’t hold a candle to the dove.”
One and All is that rare album that can truly overwhelm the listener, causing one to forget everything going on around them.
With stream of consciousness poetry embracing pop-art simplicity, Brown has crafted a dynamic album that succeeds on all levels.
Anchored by co-producer Bo Ramsay, Brown is further complemented by Jon Penner (bass), Brian Wilkie (pedal steel), Joey Burns (cello and accordion), and non-dueling, simpatico drummers J.T. Bates and Steve Hayes.
Having lived with the disc for several weeks, I can attest that the dreamlike qualities of One and All continually take me to places I can’t remember.
by Donald Teplyske