Holy schlamoley, this guy has Long John Baldry singing his praises! That's not something we come across every day. Small wonder, too, as Michael Jerome Browne delivers his folk and blues with the soul and gospel airs Baldry so favored, which also means there's a good deal of Bonnie & Delaney here, not to mention, oh say, Mylon LeFevre and a buncha others.
Browne doesn't lack for roots either, bringing in lap steel, pedal steel, harmonica, fiddle, and all the accouterments that never fail to bring a smile to country faces. His base, though, is folk, and the guy often puts it out it that way, despite cajun, bayou, blues, and multiplex influences, nor do his lyrics scamp the protestatve, human, and class issues folkers have always addressed. The War Will End Tomorrow, as an example, speaks in no uncertain fashion to its subject matter while I'm Going Away is even more drenched in the classic milieu, uptempo and bouncy, a compeer to Guthrie and Seeger.
It should be noted that Browne has ties to the True North label, from whence issueth the great Bruce Cockburn, though Browne's much more involved with antecedents ranging further back than Cockburn captures. Catch Summer Shoes On, a Bill Broonzy-ish cut, and this becomes blazingly clear. Frankly, I'll be slavering if he ever cuts a full CD of nothing but this brand of blues 'cause the guy has it from jump and few would be able challenge him. Perhaps, though, the strongest blend of everything he does is in the title cut, This Beautiful Mess.
On the other hand, if I were Browne, I'd fire the art director, 'cause the CD cover is indeed, as stated, a mess, and, whew!, it ain't beautiful. Whoever thought vomit green and a smeary mess-up of pseudo-abstract art was a good idea ought to have his or her head examined. Thus, rush past the wrapping and dive into the music posthaste.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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