Brooks & Bowskill “Too Many Roads”

Ganaraska Recording Co., 2023

A debut full of ethereal and moving songs.

Canadian duo Brittany Brooks and Jimmy Bowskill aren’t just musical partners, but life partners, too. In fact, they didn’t just write the songs on their debut album together, but to each other, using the 12 tracks of ‘Too Many Roads’ to communicate the power of the fate that brought them together to find love, and of course, the journey that they travelled to get there.

From the first line sung, Brooks’ voice is instantly engaging; delicate and feather light, with a touch of vibrato, it manages to communicate a special kind of intimacy to even the most uninitiated of listeners. “The package may / Not be / What you’d expect / But you will find / Your cup / Is overflowing / With kindness,” she apologises heart wrenchingly for her perceived faults on ‘Little Gem’. ‘Don’t Leave Me Now’ has all the earmarks of a classic country duet: “Don’t leave me now,” Brooks begs as Bowskill adds some silky smooth harmonies against a retro twang of guitar. “I’m seeing things so clearly / How I let your love / Fall right through my hands.”

On the ode to Western longing that is ‘Distant Cowgirl’, Bowskill takes lead vocals for the first time, his slightly nasal delivery a pleasing contrast to Brooks’ sweetness, but it’s his yodelling that really impresses. Said yodelling makes a welcome return on ‘Never See My Gal No More’, a song which sees Bowskill and Brooks take turns on lead vocals as they long for days gone by: “I fell in love with a girl so fine / It felt so good to know she was mine / Now I’m leaving / I’ll be gone forever / Now my life’s in misery / Cause I’ll never see my gal no more,” he sings in despair on the opening before she takes the reigns for the next part: “Got in trouble had to run / A man drew a knife so he drew his gun / Now he’s leaving / He’ll be gone forever / Now my life’s in misery / Cause I’ll never see my man no more.”

Piano tinged ‘Tired of the Talk’ finds Brooks unable to get someone off of her mind. “I’m out all night at the same old restaurants and bars / Laughing and talking / I can’t pretend anymore / Cause there’s too many questions / And I’m tired of the talk,” she warbles gently on the chorus, her voice high and honeyed as Bowskill once again adds harmonies, and we’re even treated to some pleasingly lush strings for added texture on the last minute of the song.

‘Golden Prime’, a gentle ballad dripping with piano, is an instant standout, Brooks’ voice completely conveying every inch of her longing – which is especially effective on the chorus when Bowskill harmonises. In another real treat for harmony lovers, the pair share concurrent vocal duties throughout the Latin flavoured ‘Lonely Club’. ‘Pickin’ Party’ is a decidedly different in tone to the rest of the tracks, Brooks and Bowskill both giving fast vocals – more spoken than sung – against a background that might best be described as “electronic country”.

“I was riding fast and free / Smell of summer peaches / Winding through the breeze of the grand escarpment / Bet if I knew you then / We would have got on well,” sings Brooks on ‘Plane from Saskatoon’, painting a vivid picture of not just the past, but also the excitement and wonder that comes with new love, and much of that fresh joy is echoed on ‘The Morning Song’ (“Here’s to the morning / Parallelograms of light / Pouring through the window pain / As we slowly rise”).

On the 70s folk inspired and harmony rich ‘Too Many Roads’, Brooks sings cherubically: “I’ve been down / Too many roads / For me / To fully know / No matter how you play the cards / It was always written / Written in the stars.” Whether you’re a believer in fate, or even God, it’s hard not to feel some sort of gratitude to whatever force brought Brooks and Bowskill together. Maybe it wasn’t divine intervention, but it is surely evidence of some sort of cosmic destiny that these two musicians could come together to create such an ethereal and moving set of songs.

9/10
9/10

About Helen Jones 134 Articles
North West based lover of country and Americana.
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Fiona Winders

Thanks for sharing and my drawing attention to this lovely music