Forbidding church bells loom in the foreground as Brown Kid strums a freewheeling acoustic guitar in the song “Welcome to My Funeral,” the first track in his all-new, highly anticipated EP Rusty Strings. Featuring his internationally adored airy vocal stylings and an angular, almost Ween-esque riff structure, “Welcome to My Funeral” gives listeners an idea of just what kind of sound Brown Kid has in store for them in Rusty Strings, and it’s not the trite dribble that you’ll find while browsing through a mainstream radio station’s playlist.
Some have called him a pop outsider, others have even suggested that his music is “post-folk” (whatever that means). To me, Brown Kid is a DIY singer/songwriter who has discovered the ultimate formula for making authentically catchy acoustic music that doesn’t self-righteously preach a political agenda nor sell us on a scene and their commercially corrupted ideologies.
The poignant “La Farra” follows “Welcome to My Funeral” with a dreamy percussive intro that gives way to another stone-skipping verse from Brown Kid, who glides through the words like a breeze softly shaking the leaves out of a tree. There’s plenty of surreal moments in Rusty Strings, but all of them are spawned from the gravitational pull of their composer’s voice The chilling harmony between his pipes and the easygoing acoustic guitar continues into “Hole in the Wall,” which is reminiscent of late 90’s alternative rock, though completely devoid of its punkish edge.
“Jamaicamecrazy” is a bittersweet breath of fresh air that longtime followers of Brown Kid’s music will recognize as reflective of his deep connection to the reggae community. There’s no boxing an artist as enigmatically eccentric as he is into such pedestrian musical categories. Brown Kid is so willfully experimental in his work, so ready to try almost any intriguing idea, that to dismiss him as just another member of the contemporary pop music scene isn’t just invalidating of his creative efforts – it’s downright disrespectful of his artistry.
The title track scoots through a worldly groove with a tempered slickness that bleeds into Rusty Strings’ closing number “Complacency” as if the two were always meant to be played in succession. The raw stomp of “Complacency” might have been a little out of place were it not immediately following a song as youthful as its predecessor is, but in this scenario it’s opulence is all the more magnified by its placement in the record’s track listing. This is his breakthrough release, his official entrance into the primetime.
-review by Jodi Marxbury