Now Playing: Randy Lewis Brown’s ‘Red Crow’

red crow
Image courtesy of Randy Lewis Brown

Randy Lewis Brown is prepping for the release of a new full-length studio album.  It’s called Red Crow and it drops on September 27th.  But first, for those not yet familiar with the artist in question, a bit o’ background.

Randy Lewis Brown

Randy Lewis Brown
Image courtesy of Randy Lewis Brown

Louisiana-born singer-songwriter and musician Randy Lee Brown works out of Texas.  According to his official website as a boy Brown “was offered a $10 guitar and lessons for $1 a week by an older teen in church.”  He was hooked and “was a budding [singer-] songwriter” by the time he was 14.

His rockin’ resume also includes a pair of previous releases, 2007’s Dream Big and 2013’s But Wait, There’s More.  He has won such songwriting awards as the TIME Songwriting Competition (2009), the New Traditions Award (2007), and the Poor David’s BW Stevenson Songwriter Contest (2014).  He has toured across the country and opened for such other artists as Ray Wylie Hubbard, Jim Lauderdale, and David Olney.

Signature sound

While his music is generally labeled as Americana, his music often extends beyond that.  His signature sound is a blend of multiple musical genres including Americana, country, folk, and folk-rock.

Red Crow

Red Crow is an album that demonstrates Brown’s ability to take a less than perfect life and turn it into something positive and at points nigh beautiful.  It belays the wisdom of his years of experience and then some.

Track by track

On this album, Brown leads the way on acoustic guitar, banjo, and vocals.  He is backed by an assortment of other artists.  They include Merel Bregante (drums, percussion, and harmony vocals), Michael Dorian (electric guitar), Riley Osborne (Hammond B3),  Mark Epstein (bass), Dirje Childs (cello),  Cody Braun (fiddle, harmonica, mandolin), and Sarah Pierce (harmony vocals).

The 13-track disc opens on the first single, “One Horse Town,” which is a surprisingly relatable songstory co-written with Richard P. Thomas and contains this underlying memorable groove making it a good cut for a road trip too.

The second selection is the introspective “Trouble With Me.”  It’s slower, quieter and even a bit sad.  Perhaps that’s what makes it work.

“Not Ready Yet”  is a shuffle groove and a musical metaphor concerning a pair of birds and an older couple.  It was co-composed with Randy Palmer and is the second single off the album.  “October Again”  has an effective melody that captures a painful memory’s darkness.

Co-written with Terry Klein, “She’s The Only Woman” includes a quick reference to Don McLean, a steel guitar-fueled lilt and a tinge of Lennon-McCartney to boot.  The next number is “Trust The Sun.”  The songwriting remains solid as does the artists’ performance.

The titular “Red Crow” follows.  Inspired by a painting by Jenny Joyce, this poetic piece presents the tuneful tale of a red crow that leaves crow calling cards and a specific revelation.  It’s ready-made for a film soundtrack.

“Any Old Train”  is a song that tells a story within a story.  It presents a prerequisite tale in a unique way.  “Above Timberline” is both evocative and ponderous.  Written with Jim Gilmore it also has a homey, heartfelt feel to it.

The evocative “Other Campfires” has an indigenous feel to it.  (Don’t ask: How?  It just does.)  The fun, reflective “Good Old Days” focuses on the simplicity of another time.  It is highlighted by more biographical bits and great pop culture references.

“Barlow Road” has a specific musical composition that draws you into a sad song about pioneers on the famous Oregon Trail.  The closing cut is “Goodnight Good Luck.”  Perfectly placed, this apt album endnote probably works well as a live show closer too.

Overall, the album is a quality collection of original material written or co-composed by Brown.  There is enough variety to hold the listener’s attention but not so much as to distract from the theme and flow of the work.  The songs have a familiar feel to them regardless of how unusual individual songstories might be.  So check out Randy Lewis Brown’s Red Crow and it just might take you back to the “Good Old Days.”