Music Review: Cory Brown’s “Days In A Life” is acoustic, soulful, and takes us on a journey

Originally posted 2012-09-26 22:56:58. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Jim Fusco:

Cory Brown is a songwriter with quite the pedigree.  Growing up in California (my personal favorite breeding ground for musicians), he had his father Barry (of the 70s band Morning) to look up to while he learned to play guitar and write songs.  Clearly, he picked something up from the genre of music that his father helped pioneer: the melodic tunes and soft-rock style is in great form on Cory’s 2012 debut album, “Days In A Life”.  But, Cory’s music still sounds fresh and relevant today.  His songwriting ability and style will fit well on any contemporary rock station.

This may be the debut album for Cory Brown as a solo artist, but he’s garnered some success already in his young career with a band called 7th Direction.  Clearly, Cory’s first solo album allowed him to express himself more- the songs on “Days In A Life” are introspective and poignant.  They’re the kind of songs that would only sound right on a solo record.  It’s kind of like Brian Wilson when he made “Pet Sounds”- even members of the Beach Boys have said that “Pet Sounds” was essentially a Brian Wilson solo record.  And they were correct- with the raw emotion and personal tales of longing, as in “Days In A Life”, it’s work that comes from the heart of only one person.

My favorite track on the album is “Her Eyes”.  The guitar hook and the well-crafted unique harmonies on the chorus really make this a stand-out track.  The track features just the right amount of that Crosby, Stills, and Nash semi-country-rock feel with the great guitar soloing throughout.  The track just begs for multiple listens.  I have a feeling I’ll be listening to “Her Eyes” for quite a while.

One theme I noticed throughout the whole album is the theme of traveling.  In many tracks, from “Wingman”, “Grass on the Highway”, and “Lacy Ann”, Cory weaves in visions of traveling.  He talks about driving across the country and even living life on “overdrive”.  He asks various people not to leave him and travel away, but also talks about the youthful need to run away.  As a songwriter myself who has gone through those same emotions early in life, I can definitely relate.  And, with Cory’s God-given talents, his songs and subject matter will only get more complex and interesting as time goes on.

Cory Brown’s music, tour dates, and bio can all be found on his website at http://corybrownmusic.com.  And, make sure to go get “Days In A Life” on iTunes right now by clicking here!

Steven Page’s “Page One” (2010) – The Weekend Review

Originally posted 2010-11-14 12:02:02. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

RATING:  4 / 5 stars

Coming on the heels of the excellent post-Page BnL disc All in Good Time, “expectations” would be the key word when considering the aptly-titled Page One.  Steven Page has already released two solo albums, but the Vanity Project was a side project (with much less risk involved) and A Singer Must Die with the Art of Time Ensemble was… well, covers played with an ensemble.  They were both excellent: the former in and of itself and the latter for what it was.

In all practicality, Page One is the first true Steven Page solo album.

As such, it is an exercise in expressing his talents across a variety of genres.  Some are tracks that could have fit seamlessly on previous Barenaked Ladies records.  Others would simply never have fit in that venue.

This aforementioned variety is perhaps the most appealing feature of his debut.  After all, the power pop appeal of such tracks as “Indecision” can only extend so far before one begins to go numb (taking notes, Brendan Benson?).  And, with the exception of several moments of overproduced indulgence on tracks like “Entourage” and “Queen of America,” the dynamics of these twelve diverse tracks are admirably balanced to attain cohesion as an album.

And there are several moments of absolute perfection in style, sound, and tone.  Take the opening lines of the first song, “A New Shore:”  “As captain of this band of merry sailors I’m a black mark I’m a failure/So before you watch me drown/I’m relinquishing command for something I don’t understand/this man’s about to turn his whole life upside down.”  Under any other circumstances, this nautical analogy might seem forced or cliched.  However, as it marks his departure from the extraordinarily successful band that has served as the anchor (see, I can do it too!) of his entire musical career up to this point, it seems quite appropriate.

While I follow the juxtaposition of the “merry sailors,” arguably the other four members of BnL, and the color “black,” perhaps to indicate the more serious, introverted nature of Page’s material — think: “Bad Day” on the otherwise joyous and goofy Snacktime! — the term “failure” would seem an over-exaggeration.

Still, there are many fans of the nineties rock group who consider Page’s departure a betrayal.  Some go so far as to condemn Page’s conduct in the year leading up to his exit as immoral and unforgivable.

Had this cocaine bust occurred several decades earlier or in a different band, he would have been elevated a level into rock superstar iconography, the stuff of legends.

Occurring when it did, and being who he is, Page has been vilified by the contingent of so-called family-friendly fans.

And yet, disappointed as I was to learn of the breakup, I did appreciate Page’s attitude.  As he told one interviewer, “I keep saying to fans, ‘Just think: you get a two-for-one now. You get their records and my records.'”

Page One (Steven Page, 2010)

Page One (Steven Page, 2010)

This record tells a story of internal conflict, expressed in a direct and personal manner that would arguably have lost some resonance as the product of five member band.  “Indecision” is the second track, the first single, and a signpost of sorts.  If Page One is an exploration of the recent dramatic events of his life, then “Indecision” introduces the first of the destructive forces at work: namely, indecisiveness.

As Page sings, “I’m predisposed to have it/Happiest when I don’t know what to do/I want to settle down like my father/I want to run away like my mother ought to.”

This track may be read as a response of sorts to the Barenaked Ladies’ own 2010 single “You Run Away.”  In that song, fell0w BnL co-founder Ed Robertson sings, “I’ll give you something you can cry about/One thing you should try it out/Hold a mirror shoulder high/When you’re older look you in the eye.”  Page is clearly doing this, rooting his insecurities in analogies of the family (mother/father), and admitting that he thrives on a degree of ambiguity and perhaps even crisis.

The song that follows, “Clifton Springs,” is ostensibly a character narrative, and yet Page’s delivery of certain lines resonates as though the story speaks to a deeper, more personal connection.  He sings, “My stigmata’s the regret for how/I could have let it all/Go so wrong.”  The question here is, of course, does Page intend simply to create a story or is this an outlet for expressing his own sentiments?  Other lines like “You’ve got to do what’s best for yourself” and references to “the ghosts of a life” coalesce with the thematic tones that recur across the other eleven tracks and seem to point to the latter.

(Still, devotee of the school of Dylan that I am, I acknowledge that speculation out of proportion can only serve to obscure music, not clarify it.)

The subsequent three tracks provide an array of perspectives on fidelity in general and marriage in particular.  In “Entourage,” the singer seeks immediate pleasure in the form of sex, elevating the quest by the end of the song to state, “Now we’re through with morality,/can I sleep with your wife?/I want to be like you/And your entourage/Tonight.”

“Marry Me” follows with a proposal of marriage, albeit a decidedly perfunctory one, as it comes with the rationale “I know it’s the same all over the world.”  The layers are further peeled back to reveal the heart of this figure’s matrimonial leanings: “Marry me…/Without our love, we’d just be normal people marching forward/Normal people? Who? You and Me? It can’t be!”  In each case — the looser groupie and the norm-conscious fiance-to-be — the ultimate motivation is satisfaction, whether it be physical or psychological.

The third installment in this anti-matrimonial trilogy is “All the Young Monogamists,” in which the singer and his partner observe the young couples they see, smiling to themselves as they “know what’s in store.”  As Page sings, “As they gaze into the eyes/Of the one they love/They can feel inside of them/That this is not enough.”  After expressing this existential emptiness and offering up four unpromising outcomes — tiring out, running away, sleeping around, or settling — the narrator ultimately finds himself coming full circle as he embarks on a monogamous relationship, promising “I will always be true to you.”

So, there is some optimism to cling to, after all.

This is followed by the one-two power-pop punch of “She’s Trying to Save Me” and “Over Joy,” songs which explore that second destructive force: depression.  This is a familiar force, one which has crept into the undertones — and, sometimes, overtones — of Page’s previous work.  And these are excellent, if not groundbreaking, efforts.  The former has “second single” written all over it, and the latter comes off as the Vanity Project’s answer to Wilco’s “Please Be Patient With Me.”

I would have pegged a track nine with a title like “If You Love Me” to be the mid-album slow song, but no dice.  The rock rolls on.  The phrasing here is of interest, placing the onus of relationship maintenance on the other party.  “IF you love me,” Page sings, “Everything will be all right tonight.”

“Leave Her Alone” follows, and is arguably the most dynamic track on the album.  If “All the Young Monogamists” could have been a candidate for A Singer Must Die, then “Leave Her Alone” is a brilliant blend between rock, pop, big band, and orchestral music.  This song boasts some of the strongest and bluntest lyrics, ranging from eloquent introspection (“Rephrasing the hazing amazed at/how cruel men could be,/I saw they were no different from me”) to baser internal rhymes (“And subsequent cities were shitty as well”).

Then comes “Queen of America,” the one song I’ve been unable to place on the Page One spectrum.  Truth be told, it sounds like an outtake from a Scissor Sisters album in topic, tone, and closing voice-over.

Page One wraps up fittingly with “The Chorus Girl,” the first of his songs to take a deep breath.  I’ll leave this one for you to discover on your own, but suffice it to say that every other song is a step leading up to this track.

Oh, and there is a winking reference to cocaine to rival Ed Robertson’s All in Good Time line, “You crash the party, I’ll crash the plane.”

In most respects, Page One lives up to expectations.  There is no denying that it is bittersweet to hold the BnL and Steven Page releases side by side and to realize that they each contain aspects that the other does not, and perhaps cannot.  This being said, I see no value in lamenting the breakup.  Instead, it would be best that fans follow Page’s logic and embrace this two-for-one deal.  If we respect and perhaps even trust these five men, this split must have been a positive and necessary development, and it has at the very least yielded some of the most urgent, passionate music of their recent career.

If only for now, that should be enough.

“Will It Grow” by Jakob Dylan – Chords, Lyrics, & How to Play

Originally posted 2010-03-13 23:20:50. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

“Will It Grow”
Jakob Dylan

Intro:  C#m

C#m                         A         E
I made a promise to not let go;
E              C#m                              B             A
Our tug of war has only made me want you more.
A               B                     E                 A
Steeped in hard luck and doomed to roam;
A               B                       C#m
My love is braver than you know.

My forefathers, they worked this land,
And I was schooled in the tyranny of nature’s plans.
Dressed in thunder, a cloud came round;
A                          B        E                C#m
In the shape of a lion, a hand came down.

A               E         A              E
Damn this valley, damn this cold.
E             B         A        C#m
Takes so long to let me know…
A                   E             A             E
It’s plant and reap and plow and sow,
E                        C#m
But tell me will it grow?

Dig my ditches in the golden sun;
I’d be robbing these trains if I could catch me one.
Sunday, Monday, now Tuesday’s gone…
Got me stone cold sober in a drought so long.

Boarded mansions and ghost filled yards;
There’s a boy in a water tower counting cars.
Steel traps open and empty stalls;
There’s a well-worn saddle, but the horse is gone.

Damn this valley, damn this cold.
Takes so long to let me know…
It’s plant and reap and plow and sow,
But tell me will it grow?

Jet black starlit midnight rolls;
I am down in the garden where I let you go.
Here on the surface, the earth looks round,
But it’s a Godless city of cold flat ground.

Damn this valley, damn this cold.
Takes so long to let me know…
It’s plant and reap and plow and sow,
But tell me will it grow?

C#m  C#m – B – E – B – A
Will it grow?…
A       C#m – B – E – B – A
Will it grow?…
A       C#m – B – E – B – A
Will it grow?…

Outro:  C#m

“Wilted Rose” (Vanity Project Cover)

Originally posted 2010-02-15 23:30:04. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

For Vanity Project chords & lyrics, CLICK HERE!

By Chris Moore:

Hello and welcome to another week of rock’n’roll related intrigue at the Laptop Sessions acoustic cover song music video blog!  This is an exciting time for the blog, as we have consistently been pumping out more quality material for you than any time since the session-a-day project ended.  This week, for instance, you can look forward to your typical Monday and Tuesday excellence in cover song music video form, a final Jimi Hendrix-themed edition of “Yes, No, or Maybe So, Retro,” two more installments in the “Top Five Rock Artists of the Decade, 2000-2009” list, a Guest Session on Friday by an all-new contributor (bringing back an oft-covered band), AND it’ll all be tied up by a full length Weekend Review on Sunday.

Not bad for a free blog…

Tonight, I bring you “Wilted Rose,” a song from the Vanity Project’s 2005 self-titled debut release.  For those of you unfamiliar with the Vanity Project, this is the title of former Barenaked Ladies co-frontman Steven Page’s solo album.  Well, it’s not technically a solo album in the strictest sense of the term, but for all intents and purposes, The Vanity Project is a Page solo album populated mainly by collaborations with Stephen Duffy.  Page and Duffy have been swapping lines and tunes for years, and many of their co-written efforts have been recorded by the Barenaked Ladies.  Here, Page is able to record those songs that simply weren’t a clear fit for the Barenaked Ladies.

I couldn’t believe one of us hadn’t already recorded this song for the blog — after all, it was included in the official MoU chordbook, even though it was only a rare live track.  In addition, this is the right time to have Steven Page on the brain, as the first of two Page solo efforts is due in stores tomorrow.  Now, tomorrow’s release is the less-anticipated A Singer Must Die, a collection of ten cover songs performed with the Art of Time Ensemble.  Although I’m much more interested and excited for his first solo album proper, Page certainly picked out some interesting tunes to cover — the title track from Leonard Cohen and “For We Are the King of the Boudoir” by the Magnetic Fields to name a couple.  Some of his other choices boggle my mind — why re-record “Running Out of Ink” so soon, for example?  Or why attempt an Elvis Costello deep track like “I Want You” when Fiona Apple’s cover version is already the quintessential take on it?

Overall, I can’t imagine quite what this album will sound like, but I’m very excited to hear it.  There’s only one problem: even Newbury Comics didn’t include it on their “new releases” list.

You know your release is under the radar when not even Newbury Comics is aware of its existence.

I honestly would have pre-ordered it to get it complete with Page’s autograph, but I couldn’t see spending the full price of the CD plus a considerable fee for shipping and handling.  Thus, I’ll need to get creative and soon!

Until you get a chance to listen to (or even find)  A Singer Must Die, I hope you enjoy my music video of the night.

See you next session!