Greg Brown: Freak Flag (YepRoc)

 |   |  1 min read

Greg Brown: Rain and Snow
Greg Brown: Freak Flag (YepRoc)

When you get to your 24th album you probably aren't expecting a major breakthrough in terms of having a whole new audience find you. And nothing on this fine album sounds like either a departure, or capable of taking this poet/singer beyond those who already know of him.

Formerly the musical director on the famous A Prairie Home Companion radio show, married to Iris De Ment and with a daughter Pieta an acclaimed singer-songwriter, Greg Brown is one whose musical path many might have crossed. He's certainly appeared at Elsewhere before (here).

The story behind the making of this is interesting: he had already recorded an album's worth of his dusty, crusty country-touched songs when a lightning strike hit the studio and he lost everything. Relocating to Ardent in Memphis (with guitarist/producer Bo Ramsey), he wrote a batch of new songs -- only the title track and perhaps Lovinest One remained of the previous songs -- and hunkered down to deliver this intimate and rough-edged collection.

Brown's vocals are endearingly croaky and gentle, the arrangements are uncluttered, Mark Knopfler guests on the dark brown baritone ballad Flat Stuff, and he sings of love (the album is dedicated to Iris), life as rootless traveller on the road, and waving his Freak Flag high as a man of his post-war/Vietnam generation. 

Mercy Mercy Mercy brings in some swamp funk guitar, he delivers a memorable treatment of De Ment's Let the Mystery Be as a backporch philosopher in his rocker meditating on death and follows it with the optimism of Pieta's Remember the Sun.

Tenderhearted Child at the end is as gentle as the title suggests, as moving and sentimental in its own way as Dylan's Forever Young.

Yep, 24 albums in and Brown is still a contender, at 61.

Like the sound of this? Then check out this.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Music at Elsewhere articles index

RECOMMENDED REISSUE: Gil Scott-Heron; The Revolution Will Not Be Televised . . . Plus (Flying Dutchman/Border)

RECOMMENDED REISSUE: Gil Scott-Heron; The Revolution Will Not Be Televised . . . Plus (Flying Dutchman/Border)

The late Gil Scott-Heron was a jazz poet whose work remains interesting and timeless because he directed his messages to his own people more so than to the white audience. His famous title... > Read more

Seth Haapu: Seth Haapu (Sony)

Seth Haapu: Seth Haapu (Sony)

Although this suffers a little, but only a very little, from the showcasing which often attends any debut -- and has one of those now customary intro tracks which seem de rigueur on hip-hop albums,... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Vorn Colgan of Vorn

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Vorn Colgan of Vorn

In a country where pop music is often slightly bent and off on a tangent, and "alternative" act are frequently in the mainstream of public attention, New Zealand's Vorn still manages to... > Read more

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . WILD MAN FISCHER: Psycho street singer and shouter

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . WILD MAN FISCHER: Psycho street singer and shouter

Given Frank Zappa's proclivity towards oddball performers and different musicians -- Captain Beefheart, the GTOs, the Shaggs -- it's hardly surprising he should be the one who brought Wild Man... > Read more