Brian Blake “Book Of Life”

Independent, 2022

Reflective, emotional family storytelling from Memphis troubadour.

Concept albums are often quite a challenge for the artist to bring across the meaning and passion often associated with this style of release. Blake is a Memphis-based singer-songwriter who’s been a part of that local music scene for over twenty-five years. This is his debut album and it’s linked to his family and their roots in Liberty, Texas. “My intention with this album is to pay homage to my family and the place where my family has been for more than 175 years – it’s where I spent much of my youth and it’s truly a special place for me.

Blake is on vocals and guitars assisted by a masterful collection of local musicians including Chris Bell on electric guitar; Rich Brotherton on 2nd acoustic guitar, cittern, dobro, tenor guitar, mandolin and resonator guitar; John Chipman on drums and percussion; Bart de Win on accordion; Ron Flynt on bass, Wurlitzer piano, piano and baritone guitar; Warren Hood on fiddle; BettySoo on harmony vocals and Walt Wilkins on percussion and harmony vocals and co-production duties.

The songs are all like a set of short stories, woven together and highlights include ‘Move On J.D.’, a song about a Liberty-area World War II veteran who became homeless and garnered Blake the Songwriter of the Year title in 2021 by the Memphis Songwriters Association and Blake hopes this causes listeners to reflect on how we can better support veterans with service-related disabilities.

Pain, loss and grief punctuate the highly personal ‘Book Of Life’, but manages to illicit a positive feel as the song concentrates on letting go of those emotions and pushing through the tough times. There’s a lighter feel on ‘Meant To Be’, as the narrator lists his various ex-wives and the thoughts and decisions behind the choices he made. Even though this is technically a sad, reflective musing on life’s relationship failures, it’s done with a light tone and an appealing shuffle feel.

This is a wry collection of literary-themed songs and whilst the musical pallet here is relatively limited – it’s a lovely collection of smooth sounding, soft and warm tunes, showing a deft knack of sharing highly personal tales in a winning way.



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