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Happy Hosting, Happy New Year - Rob Ellen
Americana singer-songwriters are fast becoming two-a-penny but there are still exceptions to the rule. One such case is Texas act Brad Boyer who with his easy on the ear, meaningful songs bucks the trend.
A finalist last year at the at Kerrville Folk Festival New Folk category Boyer debuts with an album produced by well-known Austin-based musician, Rich Brotherton (acoustic, electric guitar, mandolin, cittern and vocals) who in turn is helped by co-producer Chad Ware (acoustic, electric guitar, dobro and banjo) and Bill Whitbeck, Tom Van Scaik, Jason Burk, Marty Muse and Allen Huff as drums, pedal steel, organ and accordion join the above to decorate a fine set of his self-penned songs.
While one or two of the songs meander a little, Boyer comes through with a handful of exceptional ones via ‘In A Bar Downtown’ as mandolin and lead guitar ease along in loping fashion. ‘Marie’ likewise has a tranquil, peaceful ambiance as he speaks of drinking and wondering what to do before gaining inspiration from across the room. A gentle love ballad warmed in acoustic guitar and fine pedal steel (Muse) it has as in ‘Tonight I’m Gonna Lose’ a wonderful partner. A splendid affair it is arguably the best by a country mile on the album. My comment isn’t meant in anyway to be disrespectful to his other songs but it takes his work to another level —such is the abundance ruining through its veins. Likewise, hold the mule a minute for ‘West Texas Wind’ etched in sympathetic accordion it is up there too. Man it is a gem, melancholy and dreamy it speaks of dying in Texas and dusty red dirt, cotton growing up high and blues skies and how he would ride the West Texas wind!
Of an uptempo, joyous feel you have the bright and breezy ‘The Tele Picker’ and rockabilly-ish electric guitar fashioned ‘Carney’s Pub Blues’ and ‘Mean When I Drink’. Good, honest barroom county fare. While of a more artful and lasting nature ‘New Strings (On An Old Guitar)’ is a shuffling kind of ballad that with a backing containing dobro, electric guitar and percussion speaks of rural America and a lot beside. Here is someone who if I am not sadly mistaken set to be around for a long, long time.
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