Brownwynne Brent 'Stardust' - Self Release

The cover may suggest a Donovan-esque folky, but from the opening bars Brent offers a multi-layered music in a unique voice. Her producer Johnny Sangster has the experience to steer the album through musically creative settings that feature some excellent nimble players in the likes of Calexico’s John Convertino on drums and percussion with bassist Keith Lowe, Jon Rauhouse on banjo, steel and Dobro as well as Sangster himself on a variety of guitars. They are joined, on occasion, by keyboard, strings and trumpet, all of which makes this a rewarding album. 

It is Brent’s songs and voice however that is the focus here. Lyrically accomplished, these songs veer towards the poetic. “You’re just a prisoner watching shadows dance, dancing to your grave.” (Devil Again) or “I keep my heart deep inside, it left a scar I cannot hide, but I will live to love again”. Just two songs that reflect a melancholy and mournfulness that is there like a veil around many of these songs. However as the latter lyric indicates there’s a hopefulness here that, in this musical setting, is uplifting.

The songs though tell there own tale. Heartbreaker, Bulletproof, Dark Highway, Already Gone and When You Said Goodbye all speak to a inherent sadness of the frailty of the human condition. The ability to express these sentiments in song goes back to the dawn of time and may in a different setting be considered “blues”. However while there are strong elements of the South inherent in her music, it has a has the feel of dark orchestral country that harks back to the work of Lee Hazelwood at times. But it is Brownwynne Brent who is the focus and fulcrum. She has an aged voice that belies her look. It has a fragility and is evocative but at the same time has a steely resolve that marks this album as something special and sprinkled with stardust.