Friday, August 21, 2015

Brady Enslen: “Beautiful Things” (2015) CD Review

Brady Enslen is an excellent folk singer and songwriter from Alberta, Canada. Beautiful Things is his debut studio album, though a few of the songs on it were included on an earlier album with Brett Nelson titled The Kiln Sessions, which was recorded live last year. The first time I put this CD on, I was immediately drawn in. Brady Enslen’s voice has warmth and confidence, and his songs immediately feel like a vital part of your world. There isn’t a weak track here. And besides that, Beautiful Things is a CD that would be perfect to have along on a road trip. I’ll be adding a few of these tunes to my road trip mix CD list.

It opens with one of those tracks, “Drive,” a gorgeous, mellow song with intimate-sounding vocals. Here is a taste of the lyrics: “We’ll drive until the mountains fall to their knees/We’ll meet the Pacific and throw our cares in the sea/We’ll drive, drive, we’ll drive until we can’t drive anymore.” This song is so beautiful. It’s followed by another song that I’ll be adding to road trip mix CDs, “Horizon Lines,” with lines like “Southern twang, mountain song/There’s a lot of places to belong/It’s raining in Virginia beyond that Mississippi bend/New York, New York/Wait right here ‘til I’m back again.” This one is more of a sweet country rock tune, with some nice work on pedal steel by Eric Lemoine.

“Beautiful Things,” the CD’s title track, has a wonderful, positive feel and an honest, sweet attitude. There is love in his voice as he sings, “You are my beautiful thing.” There are some really pretty backing vocals by Aisha Belle which add a lot to this track. Plus, I love the violin, also by Aisha Belle. That and the great percussion make me feel like I’m standing on the shores of Ireland or Scotland.

“Bitter In Barstow” is another track that I will be playing on road trips. It is also one of the songs that was included on The Kiln Sessions. The version here has a fuller sound, with drums and pedal steel, but maintains a raw feel, which is great. The title makes me laugh (perhaps because I live in Los Angeles), and he refers to Barstow as “some dirty little town.” “And I really must go/Make my wheels hit the road/Because I’m bitter in Barstow/I’m hanging out in Fresno/I’m going crazy in Bakersfield/I’m in love in L.A.”

“The Hawk’s Eye” and “The Engineer” are the other two tunes that were included on The Kiln Sessions. “The Hawk’s Eye” is my personal favorite track on Beautiful Things, and the fuller band sound on this rendition really makes it something special. It has this great old-time jazzy feel, mixed with country, and the results are just bloody delicious. I am particularly fond of the violin on this track. “You can hear the coyotes howling/Arched back and looking at the moon/You can hear the storm clouds are growling/Telling you that rain will be here soon.” And “The Engineer” is more firmly in the country realm, and the drums of this version give the impression of the train. There is a good energy to this track, and some wonderful work on guitar.

“No Whiskey For Mama” is a fun western swing tune, with a reference to Lord Of The Flies: “Those kids were left to fend for their lives/Kind of like Lord Of The Flies/Running wild and running free.” The album then concludes on a sweet and pretty note with “Drags Of Sunset.” “I best be on my way/To better things/Before the light goes away/And I lose my way.”

CD Track List
  1. Drive
  2. Horizon Lines
  3. Beautiful Things
  4. End Of A Page
  5. Lonesome Winds
  6. Bitter In Barstow
  7. The Hawk’s Eye
  8. The Engineer
  9. No Whiskey For Mama
  10. Drags Of Sunset

Brady Enslen is on lead vocals and guitar. Joining him are Aisha Belle on violin and vocals, Ashley Au on bass, Dan Bertnick on drums, Matt Filopoulos on lead guitar, Eric Lemoine on pedal steel, and Scott Nolan on piano and organ.

Beautiful Things is scheduled to be released on September 11, 2015.

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