I love to find new music all the time and as a big Blues fan I like to find more & more great artists in the genre. I have noticed the rise in excellent Blues artists from the United Kingdom in recent years. There's Joanne Shaw Taylor, Dani Wilde, Tristan Mackay and Oli Brown who is the subject for my review today. They have all had great critical responses from critics and have toured extensively gaining a strong following.
**Here I Am**
This is his third studio album and was released in 2012. The album features Scott Barnes (bass), Wayne Proctor (drums and percussion) and Joel White (keyboards). There are also two collaborations with Dani Wilde and Paul Jones. The album led to Brown being nominated for Best Guitarist and Best Young Artist in the 2012 British Blues Awards. The album was number one in the Amazon, HMV and iTunes blues charts.
1.) Here I Am
This is a vibrant opener to the album, It features some catchy guitar hooks and Oli's vocals have a nice British Blues sound. This is a flowing opener with a fairly big sound and Oli Brown showcases his guitar talent with some nice licks and is backed well by the drums and keyboards in particular with Scott Barnes doing a decent job on the bass too. This is a nice opener which showcases the talent of Oli Brown but also leaves more to be discovered.
2.) Thinkin about her
This is another catchy Blues rock track which has a musical intro which then leads into the vocals. Oli's vocals aren't amongst his best on this track though as they don't really showcase the power of his vocals and are a little safe in places. The track develops well though and there's some nice guitar work towards the end. There's a nice shuffling musical accompaniment in the middle that takes the track to the next level and when Oli lets loose on guitar it rises again.
3.) Manic Bloom
This is a nice rolling Blues track which has a simple yet effective drum part and the bass guitar pins together the drums and Oli's guitar too. Oli showcases a better vocal on this one as he's vocal is more tender and emotive. I like the middle of the track which leads up to the excellent guitar solo from Oli which tops things off well. It has an excellent live feel and the solo leads into a nice vocal melody and then back out.
4.) All we had to give
This track slows the pace and we hear a more relaxed vocal from Oli Brown here. This is a nice track which moves along well. His emotive vocals work well with the relaxed musical backing. I like the backing vocals which blend well with Oli's lead vocals. There are some very nice guitar licks on this one which lead up to the guitar solo which you can hear coming by the change of the music. The solo tops things off really nicely and takes things to a higher level.
5.) You can only blame yourself
This is a track which has a heavier Blues feel with some catchy guitar licks and excellent bass guitar and drums sequence. The vocals are well performed here and I like the way the track comes together with some nice melodies. There are some nice melodies towards the end which lead into the solo well. Oli's vocals are expressive and combine well with the drums, bass guitar and keyboard to create a good sound. The guitar solo tops things off with a little Joe Bonamassa style about it.
6.) Start it again
This is a catchy track which has a stop start melody and some flowing vocals from Oli Brown. The melodies combine together well. It's one of the catchiest tracks on the album and has some excellent licks. Although there are some great parts here it's not quite up there with the best couple of tracks on the album but is still a very enjoyable track. The guitar solo progresses slowly and then comes together with a nice touch. It's a good track.
7.) Devil in Me
This is a Bluesy ballad which has a slow shuffling feel, Oli's vocals are emotive and relaxed and the guitar melodies are understated. This track takes a while to get into it's full flow but is a nice track all round which has some very good parts. The guitar solo is relaxed and well performed. It progresses slowly but is a good one indeed if a little relaxed compared to other solos on the album but for me that shows his variety in playing.
8.) I Love you more than you'll ever know
This is a fabulous reworking of the classic Donny Hathaway track which was last done by Gary Moore but originally by The vocals from Oli Brown are amongst the best on the album as he performs with a real emotive vocal which comes across so well. I love the way this track develops. The simple bass guitar and Drums is backed by a wonderfully sedated keyboard sound. This lets Oli perform the vocals so well and then when he lets loose on the guitar he produces a special guitar solo which is a fine tribute to Gary Moore. Wonderful cover.
This track takes things back to a faster pace after the slow ballad style of the previous track. This is one of the catchiest tracks on the album thanks to some excellent guitar licks and flowing drumming. Oli's vocals are well performed and combine well with the musical backing. I like the way the track leads into the guitar solo towards the end which tops things off well. The solo starts gently and then develops with some nice bending of the strings. Excellent stuff.
10.) Mr Wilson
This is a catchy blues track which starts gently but with a melodic guitar tone and then the drums kick in with a catchy bass hook. I like the stop start nature of this track and the melodies combine well with his vocals to create a nice sound. It's a flowing track which has a lot going for it and when Oli lets loose on a guitar solo the track takes a turn to the next level. It's a well performed track which is up there with the best tracks on the album. The solo tops things off wonderfully.
11.) Like a father
This is an interesting track which has a different guitar sound, almost like a train going along. The drums are well performed and there are some nice keyboard sounds which add something to the melodies. The track develops just when that intro is getting a little tired and there are some catchy guitar licks which add something to the party. This one could be better with a few tweaks but as it is it's a pretty decent track. The solo tops things off really well. Dani Wilde proves an excellent addition to the track.
12.) Solid Ground
This track opens with a catchy percussion and drum sequence and then develops with a melodic bass guitar tone and Oli's catchy guitar work. This is a nice final track from the album and is an example of the sound on the album which for me works well. This is a very listenable toe tapper of a song and works really well amongst the other songs on the album.
This is the third release from Oli Brown and is a solid piece of work. The best track for me on the album has to be the fantastic "I love you more than you'll ever know" which is a fabulous reworking of a classic track. His guitar work is excellent and his vocals are for the most part very well performed. This is a Blues Rock star that has found his sound and has carved out an acclaimed career for himself. I hope to see him live sometime and hope he continues to improve. This album has a few weaker links but no bad songs. It loses a star but four stars is a fine tribute to this album.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Here I Am
2 Thinking About Here
3 Manic Bloom
4 All We Had To Give
5 You Can Only Blame
6 Start It Again
7 Devil In Me
8 I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know
10 Mr. Wilson
11 Like A Feather
12 Solid Ground