From the Edge of the World

Severin Browne


Severin Browne
P. O. Box 411571
Los Angeles, CA 90041

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Guntram Gudowius

Being interested in the music of siblings, I was glad to get the chance to listen to Severin Browne's CD having followed the songs of his brother Jackson over the years. In 1971, Severin signed on as a staff songwriter at Motown Records and later released two well-received albums.

From the Edge of the World is a 1995 collection of eleven songs written by Severin, four of them are co-authored. Musically, he comfortably draws from soul, reggae and jazz roots to create an album of "west coast pop" with various moods of upbeat and slow tunes

He sings and plays acoustic guitar and piano with a cast of well-known session musicians, including Craig Doerge on keyboards and Rosemary Butler doing some of the harmony vocals. Two tracks feature his brother Jackson on background vocals.

The lyrics of most songs span the topic of love from different angles. My Love Mo Better advertises his over someone else's. If I Loved You tells the story of a friend who wants to become the lover...'watching as a friend so long I never thought I'd fall in love with you.' Dance Until Tomorrow is a song of hope to stay in love in spite of all the outside changes...'I hope we're still in love, old and grey.' Worth is about a woman with material but without emotional wealth...'can she love anybody when she won't love herself?' A Hit From a Heartbreak is a tongue-in-cheek look at the writing of love songs...'think of your future, think of it fast, the hit of tomorrow comes from a love of the past.' Leaving You's the Hardest Thing I've Known is a wonderful heart wrenching slow song with sparse arrangement. It was featured on the 1995 Fast Folk L.A. CD.

The title track, From the Edge of the World, is the closest Severin comes to "the Jackson Browne Sound" of the 70s. It's an upbeat song of disappointment... `you blew me away like only a friend can do...I had a friend, but god, I feel deceived!" Jackson sings harmony on this one, their voices blend like only brothers' voices can. Mystery is a swingy tune about a chance meeting with the feeling of recognition...'our paths have never crossed that I can see yet I feel close to you.' Uptown is about isolation and advancing and its price in today's society. Money is a good time tune about how nice it would be to have lots and the schemes people get into to achieve that goal fast but remembering other values as more important. One Mile Closer is a road song about the push and pull feelings and the question, "Is this relationship still worth the trouble?"

The production of Yoshio J. Maki is very smooth, bringing out the various instruments without creating a wall of sound. Not being a big fan of the B-3 organ, I think the four songs where it is heard would do just as well without it. The melodies are catchy and yet often take unexpected turns that keep them interesting after repeated listenings, in fact I enjoy them more each time around since a certain familiarity has set in...

Edited by Cynthia A. Harney

Copyright 1998, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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