BRETT DENNEN So Much More (Dualtone)

It’s 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 latter’s 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 Simon’s later work (for example “The Rhythm Of The Saints” or “You’re 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”.

“She’s Mine”, on the other hand, was surely built to honour Bob Dylan’s “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 song’s titular phrase. “I Asked When” is, how shall I say it, aware of “A Hard Rain’s 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 shouldn’t obscure the album’s 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, it’s hard to see this album steering you wrong.