Greg Brown - Covenant


Greg Brown

RHR CD 148

Red House Records
P.O. Box 4044
St. Paul, MN 55104

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Moshe Benarroch

We are heading for a great start on this CD with two of Brown's finest compositions, 'cept You And Me and Rexroth's Daughter. The first song introduces cellular phones to folk music:
Half the people you see these days are talking on cell phones
driving off the road and bumping into doors
people used to spend quite a bit of time alone
I guess nobody's lonely anymore'cept you and me babe

This great song, with mostly Brown's guitar and vocals, is a tale of how quickly we get used to things we didn't know; things that limit our existence. At the end of every stanza Brown repeats the line 'cept You and Me, leaving it to us to understand whether this is good or bad, or both. We never know if he is for or against the changes, and it is this dichotomy that makes the whole song.

Coming just after it we have Rexroth's Daughter, an epic ballad about an adolescent who remains unfulfilled, with a never ending love for a nameless woman known only as Rexroth's Daughter. It is a most original and timeless tale that could pretty well have been written a century ago. It's a classic song.

Things starts to cool down a bit just after that, and with song after song we get just second-rate 60's and 70's songs. Although these are all original songs, they sound like covers of any rhythm and blues band from that period. They could work well in a bar after two or three beers, but they just don't make it on an album, especially if we compare them to the two greatest CD masterpieces by Brown, Dream Cafe and The Poet Game, two of the best recordings to appear in the 90's. Even Further In and Slant 6 Mind were more convincing albums than this one.

We have to wait until the last song, Pretty One More Time, a love song to an old car, to have Brown back in form again. But then we get another mediocre bonus track, Marriage Chant, about not believing in marriage but wanting to marry that one person.... I don't understand what kind of bonus track this is if it is announced by a sticker on the cover.

Well, that's what you get, two great songs, a few good ones, and mostly a mediocre album that will appeal more to convinced fans than to newcomers. To the latter I would propose to start with the other CD's mentioned in this review. And maybe it's time for a "Best of Greg Brown" compilation for those who are discovering him after his recent tour with Ani DiFranco, and his high profile these days.

Song List:

  • 'Cept You & Me Babe
  • Rexroth's Daughter
  • Real Good Friend
  • Blues Go Walking
  • Waiting On You
  • Living In A Prayer
  • Dream City
  • Lullaby
  • Blue Car
  • Walkin' Daddy
  • Pretty One More Time
  • Married To You

Edited by Roberta B. Schwartz

Copyright 2000, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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