An album of high-quality music that never fails to grab your interest.
“Hey guys, we’ve an afternoon to spare before the gig tonight, so why don’t we hop into the studio and record an album?” Maybe this isn’t quite how it really went down but the bold lads of the Graham Brown Band did indeed record their latest release ‘Spirt and Soul’ over the course of one afternoon just prior to lockdown. Well, to be totally accurate there were a few acoustic guitar and shaker overdubs added a little later back in Graham Brown’s home city of Vancouver (with production and mixing courtesy of Bill Buckingham of Palace Studios) but the bulk of it was recorded live in the studio in Edmonton.
Originally from Glasgow, but brought up in Canada from a young age, Graham Brown is one of these musicians who have created a prodigious amount of music over the years but manage to largely fly under the radar. Thankfully, it’s almost impossible to pigeonhole his music, spanning as it does, in true Americana fashion, a mix of rock, country and roots. Brown began his professional career over 30 years ago with his first band (Jr. Gone Wild) and his touring career has seen him play a wide range of iconic venues such as Liverpool’s Cavern Club, The Troubadour in LA and even CBGB’s in New York.
Let’s get to the album though. ‘Sprit and Soul’ launches straight in with the rock-based driving title track with the protagonist taking us into a world where complete personal commitment is the order of the day but one where he’s never certain that it’s going to be enough before ‘Drink For Two’, with it’s “creepy swamp vibe”, to use Browns’s own words, dives into a dark place but one where the chink of light at the end of the tunnel makes you believe there is an outcome worth fighting for. The mood lightens with ‘Let’s Get High’, a flat-out love song but one where you need to dig a little deeper to find what really matters in a relationship. Other standout tracks include the slower placed ‘Haunted’ and ‘Through Your Darkness’ with its search for truth and ‘Naturally’, which was written on the day Tom Petty passed away and where the band has done a fine job recreating a Petty like style in honour of the great man.
Far from being a hindrance, the “live” recording has given ‘Spirit and Soul’ a spontaneity and a certain joie de vivre that more, sometimes overproduced albums can often lose. The tracks are nicely varied, and the songs need multiple listens to fully grasp the intricacies of the messages hidden within the lyrics, and even then you’ll almost always find a new twist every time you listen. Do yourself a favour, track ‘Sprit and Soul’ down, you’re unlikely to be disappointed.