I am a great fan of what I call ‘the naked song’; this being a song that is basically just a voice and one or two instruments. There are a couple of things that mark out good naked songs; firstly the songs must be good and have great words, and secondly the singer must have a voice that grabs your attention. Rich Brown is a writer and singer of great ‘naked songs’.
Rich himself is unsure where in that great wide world of music genres he places himself. This in itself is no bad thing; it says that he’s about making his own music without bending it to fit a niche. I am being deliberately vague in identifying him as a singer/songwriter; it’s kind of vague enough to cover a whole range of influences while saying that these are songs where the words matter. If you were to hold a gun to my head (or offer me a huge amount of salted liquorice to spill the beans) I might go as far to say that there is certain influence of Irish folk, a dash of punk attitude, a hint of English folk and teaspoon of that big American acoustic driven ballad.
And his voice is compelling, it draws you in. He let’s the words do the work. It’s true to say I love his voice.
So now you know all that I know, and my, admittedly sometimes wrong, ‘identification’ of where his music sits; I think it’s time to dive in.
‘Let me in [redux]’ is a tweaked version of a previously released track. This sits in that kind of Irish folk sound mixed with a load of other things – it has something of a Country sound. It’s a lovely jaunty thing with a rhythm that makes you want to get up and jig madly.
The words are bloody fantastic people. I’m interpreting them as two parallel stories – perhaps wrongly – one I can’t fail but to hear a story about flooding, but wait there’s another level. This is about life, the modern world. It’s about wanting sanctuary from all of that. I may be wrong, as I said, but that’s what I’m hearing. I’m fairly sure there are other, equally valid, ways of interpreting them.
But you see that’s the mark of a great song. You just want to work out what it’s about; to find the nuance. And given that the song is one I’m happy leaving on repeat while I’m doing that, I guess you could say it’s a grower and a stayer.
Ah now ‘’The Kraken’ just says something to me without even hearing the song (sorry I should have mentioned this is one of the two songs written during the Pandemic). In order to understand why it says something to me you need to know about Q. Whether this is by design or just a coincidence I don’t know. I’ll come back to this in a bit.
Musically this sits somewhere between that slightly punky Irish sound, more than a hint of a big American acoustic led ballad (in say the style of Springsteen). All of this is melded into a joyous burst of music that’ll have you foot tapping and head nodding. Lovely musical touches abound – a lovely dual vocal line there, what sounds like a keyboard.
So back to the words. It appears that the Kraken (a legendary sea monster of gigantic size) can refer to any number of things. I hear it referring to the rise of an oppressive government, the rise of selfishness. It stands for those things that can suddenly rise up and oppress us, and our lack of awareness of the impending danger.
‘Walking the straw dog’ is one of those big American acoustic ballads. Big on tune, big on emotion and feeling. It is bloody fantastic and once I heard it once I kept on going back to it, time and time again. If you listen to one song from this EP, let it be this one.
Hearing Rich’s songs is one of those unexpected benefits of being part of LSF. I can’t imagine I would have found him in any other way. But now that I’ve listened to his songs, my life somehow feels better. I feel that way whenever I find a new artist to put on my favourites list.
I urge you to listen to this EP, it’s wonderful, truly wonderful