BRETT DENNEN So Much More (Dualtone)
Its the vocals that strike you first. On his second album, Californian singer/songwriter Brett Dennen has the honeyed tones of a particularly chewy-sounding Paul Simon, round about the time of the latters first post-Garfunkel work. Musically, too, the long, drifting arcs that curl around There Is So Much More and Darlin Do Not Fear .are strongly reminiscent of Simons later work (for example The Rhythm Of The Saints or Youre The One), and lyrics such as I heard about a woman who lives in Colorado/She built a monument of sorts behind her garage door land smack dab in the middle of Something So Right and Slip Slidin Away.
Shes Mine, on the other hand, was surely built to honour Bob Dylans I Want You, from the verses tumbling cadence to the choruses built around the repetition of the title you can practically sing one song to the tune of the other (a parlour game that some of us might recognise from attending Dylan gigs!) Similarly, I can hear Queen Jane Approximately in The One Who Loves You The Most, and examining the lyrics side by side the similarities in both songs construction is remarkable: a three line verse, usually opening with the word when, followed by the repetition of the songs titular phrase. I Asked When is, how shall I say it, aware of A Hard Rains A-Gonna Fall, this particular weighty precipitation falling, at least in part, upon the residents of New Orleans.
Still, being influenced by Dylan and Simon is hardly a catastrophic career move for a singer/songwriter, and shouldnt obscure the albums other merits. Dennen dedicates the album to truth, justice and daydreams, and that dedication seeps into songs that exude a gentle disgust with the condition of the world. Aside from the more obvious reference points examined above, So Much More also has the bounce and lilt of Ben Harper at his least Hendrixy, and is impeccably produced. If singer/songwriters float your boat, its hard to see this album steering you wrong.