I mentioned Angus Stone last week when I placed his album in my top 10 albums of the year. I hadn’t had a chance to write a review for it before I put it on that list. Angus Stone is an Australian musician better known for his half of the brother/sister duo Angus and Julia Stone. He has a traditional folksy sound that includes guitars, violins, banjos, mandolins and harmonicas. It’s not the parts of the music that make it outstanding, it’s the combination of the parts and the creation of an album that’s great from top to bottom.
Often times we compare singer songwriters to Bob Dylan or use the term “Dylan-esque” to describe their sound. Typically, we’re talking about someone with the ability to write a great song, play the acoustic guitar and sing with a gravelly, imperfect voice. All of those qualities are certainly present on this album, but this album is more than an homage to Dylan. It’s the creation of a sound and style that, coming from a 26 year old artist, is the kind of songwriting style that catches people’s attention.
From the first track, “River Love”, it’s evident that Angus has a deep appreciation for the music of the past. The song starts off with “Headed north to San Francisco,/ Wild Horses in my head” and continues to make you think of travelling with a tune that is reminiscent of that song. “Bird on the Buffalo” is a musically perfect track with lyrics that seem like nonsense, but sing of a complicated relationship hinted at in the title.
The two really stand out tracks on the album are “The Apprentice of the Rocket Man” and “Be What You Be”. “The Apprentice of the Rocket Man” is a song that creates a sound, an atmosphere, that stands head and shoulders about what most songs are able to do. If he were singing in another language, you would probably still be able to tell that this was a song about an astronaut, yet, at the same time, this song wouldn’t sound out of place on the radio. It’s the story of a lonely apprentice to a lonely astronaut and one that captures that lyrically and musically. “Be What You Be” is a special song because of it’s message, which is effortlessly combines with such a happy and upbeat song, its nearly impossible not to smile the whole way through. While I’m typically opposed to any song with bad grammar, the message “be what you be in all that you are” is hard to argue with.
This album, Broken Brights, is the kind of album that makes you go back and buy all of the catalogue of an artist. It’s a fantastic album start to finish and one that transcends the typical singer-songwriter genre. To not mention any of the songs seems like a disservice, but do yourself a favor and go and pick up this album.