Greg Brown: The Evening Call (Red House/Elite)

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Greg Brown: Cold and Dark and Wet
Greg Brown: The Evening Call (Red House/Elite)

Iowa-born singer-songwriter Brown is one of those singer-songwriters that other artists line up to pay tribute to: in fact Lucinda Williams, Ani DiFranco, Gillian Welch and others appeared on a tribute to him a few years back.

He's a poet (he recorded an album of William Blake poems) and is very much in the boho-Beat Generation lineage whose lyrics have the economy of American Zen poet Gary Snyder, and on this album pulls off a spare spoken-word piece without sounding forced because that is his tradition.

He has released some superb albums (The Poet Game about a decade ago is where you go after this current album), been a regular on Garrison Keillor's radio show A Prarie Home Companion (Keillor and others appear in the excellent DVD film of the singer's life and work which came with Brown's If I Had Known compilation), and is much favoured by those who know their alt.country/American folk-blues.

The Evening Call is another typically understated but intensely focused and quite dark Brown album with songs about love fading, the plight of working people when jobs go overseas and cars cost what houses used to, life as an itinerant, and love regained.

I once called him a "universal regionalist" because his lyrics seem drawn from the entirely local and personal, yet reach out beyond those confines.

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