Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Findlay Brown album review

Findlay Brown
Love Will Find You
(Verve Forecast)
Grade: A

They just don’t make ‘em like this anymore. Yorkshire native Findlay Brown is an ex-boxer who played bass in an obscure electronica outfit before branching off on his own a few years ago. His acclaimed 2007 U.K. import-only release Separated by the Sea delved into Nick Drake-styled folk territory. On Love Will Find You – Brown’s outstanding stateside debut – several sublime pop treasures transport you back to the early 1960s, when Roy Orbison, Phil Spector and NYC Brill Building pop songwriters ruled the charts.

Former London Suede guitarist Bernard Butler (Duffy, Libertines) expertly produces, plays guitar and keyboards here. Amid swelling orchestration and female backing vocals, Brown sings about being shunned on “Nobody Cared.” Instead of taking the ‘woe is me’ approach, he’s optimistic: “you’ve got to carry on/everything will wash away with the rain.”

The gorgeous, ultra-dramatic ballad “Everybody Needs Love” puts Brown’s soulful voice to great use. “That’s Right,” is a fast and fun rockabilly detour (no surprise, since the artist usually sports a pompadour), sounding like something Sam Phillips might’ve cut for Carl Perkins back in the ‘50s at Sun Studios.

Standout tracks “I Still Want You” and “Holding Back the Night” find Brown channeling Orbison’s passionate delivery alongside Everly Brothers harmonies, while reverb-heavy vocals during the pedal steel-accented “If I Could Do It Again” are pure Ricky Nelson. Finally, the inspirational “I Had a Dream” brings everything to an epic close amid trumpet and sax solos and a male choir (think Elvis Presley and the Jordanaires). Definitely an album of the year contender.

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