A new David Crosby for the MySpace generation? Just maybe.
Sid Smith 2007
It seems hardly a week goes by without a clutch of new releases from bearded young men, earnestly plying their singer-songwriter wares on the public. You’d think there’d only be so much doe-eyed, shoe-gazing angst the world could take but it appears that supply has yet to outstrip demand in that particular department.
Bearing a passing resemblance to Devendra Banhart (happily without the concomitant kookiness), Cary Brothers has been effective at creating a bit of quiet cult status - the prerequisite of today’s post-modern troubadour.
A college mate of Zach Braff, (indie film director, and star of comedy series, Scrubs), Brothers’ career got a leg-up when one of his songs was used in the show and onto the Grammy-winning soundtrack to Braff’s movie, Garden State. With strategic appearances on other hit TV shows such as Smallville, Grey’s Anatomy and ER, and of course the viral ubiquity of myspace, such slow burn brand-building has raised the temperature of expectation.
The acoustic core of his debut album is augmented by Chad Fischer’s sensitive production, encompassing Daniel Lanois’ chilled-out panoramas and the intimate warmth of Joe Boyd at his best.
This combination finds convincing expression in the lilting simplicity of “Honestly” and the truly beautiful but all too brief, “Loneliest Girl In The World,” where guitar picking is graced with icy trickles of piano and reverb-wreathed strings. “Ride” would lift the most cynical and leaden of hearts clear into the stratosphere.
There are moments when his self-confessed Brit-pop affections jar with the LA sun-soaked melancholy permeating his more mature material. “Who You Are” borrows Snow Patrol’s chugging introspection, whilst “The Glass Parade”, aims for some of Coldplay’s arid arena-pomp. Soft-rock gambits aside, Brothers is at his best when focussed on smaller, bitter-sweet interaction song rather than zippo-aloft gestures.
His PR people imagine him mixing it with primetime David Crosby. Whilst that’s plainly wishful thinking for now, he does share some of the same harmonic instincts of Laurel Canyon’s greatest survivor. Who You Are is an impressive debut. Whether he almost cuts his hair or entangles the entire area will be interesting to see.