On his thirteenth album, Solo, Graham Brown performs in just that manner, showcasing his skills as both a singer/songwriter and guitarist as he’s never done before on record. For the Vancouver B.C.-based artist, the decision to go it alone was made almost as a personal challenge after establishing his reputation as one of Canada’s finest electric guitarists over the past three decades.
Brown says, “After writing and recording hundreds of songs to this point, and playing thousands of live shows I realized I still have so much to learn about the craft of songwriting as well as the delivery of the songs. I’ve also learned that the honesty within the delivery and the song itself is paramount. This record is part of my evolution, although I feel I’m getting better every day because I see where I am heading and I believe I know what it takes to get there.”
Brown certainly displays all of that self-awareness on Solo, 12 original songs that both shimmer like early morning sunshine (“Twister Like”), and glow like the dying flickers of a late night candle (“You Are The Stars”). Alternating between six and twelve-string acoustic, with harmonica added whenever necessary, Brown shows he’s no run of the mill folkie, as the songs are built around uncommon chord progressions, with the emphasis firmly placed on melodies that allow his voice to take full flight.
On tracks like “Because Of You” and “Girl From The Peg,” Brown even sounds like a more mature Alex Chilton circa Big Star’s #1 Record. But with his musical roots stretching back to the dawn of the “cow-punk” movement in the 1980s, Brown admits that he mainly leaned on his love of Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Tom Petty when crafting most of the songs on Solo.
“As this is an acoustic record with one vocal, acoustic guitar and harmonica, I basically relied on the approach of old school folk singers/songwriters,” he says. “I respect all of those artists for their obvious talent, but also for the fact that they stand up and say, ‘I will not sell myself out.’ I respect that and I feel the same way.”
For Brown that’s meant taking the road less travelled throughout his career. But that road has still brought him and his band around the world, from The Cavern Club in Liverpool and The Marquee in London, to The Roxy and The Troubadour in Los Angeles, along with CBGB in New York City. In its review of the Graham Brown Band’s 2021 live-off-the-floor album Spirit and Soul, Americana UK raved, “The ‘live’ recording has given Spirit and Soul a spontaneity and a certain joie de vivre... you’ll almost always find a new twist every time you listen.”
Capturing that purity in his performances is something that Brown strives for above all these days. While he’s always earned the respect of his guitar-playing peers, with Solo, Brown makes a solid case for his songwriting prowess as well. In summarizing the album, he says, “All the songs on Solo come from real life experiences—love, disappointment, memories good and bad, forgiveness—but no regret. At all.”
Well travelled, great shoes, fluid melodic baselines are his thing
Fine taste in scotch and good wine
Solid drummer with finesse and a great rock n roll attitude
Guitar, Keys / Harmony Vocals
A well schooled player and a great singing partner