Andrew Brien. Closed Pages.
Andrew Brien/Bandcamp, 2013.
Andrew Brien began writing songs in 2009, and has recently released his first album on Bandcamp. A singer-songwriter working in Glasgow, Scotland, Brien has been performing in live venues and making music inspired by his own life story and experiences. Named influences are always interesting for me, especially when the artist is a non-US artist, because I manage to find some great new-to-me artists that way. Brien’s influences include John Mayer, which is obvious when you hear his songs, as well as Deaf Havana, City and Colour, Go Radio, and Mayday Parade. If you have a day to fall down the rabbit hole, definitely check out some of these artists and see where else they lead you.
Closed Pages has crisp, light guitar chords and clear vocals, highlighted by Brien’s Scottish accent. His sound is familiar but fresh, and the themes of his lyrics may be universal but he interprets them through the lens of his psyche, so we get a new version than other artist’s can bring.
Beginning of Me and You is serious-sounding but cheerful, and includes some enchanting little vocalizations toward the end of the track, and closes on an acappella note. After a traditional studio count-in (brilliant touch, in my opinion), Keep You Moving On has more flowery guitar-play to go with the solid musical bones and a message we can all use sometimes- “I’m here for you, and won’t let you down”- and vaguely made me want to start a marathon of Friends TV episodes. The title track begins with gorgeous piano work, which continues through the piece. The balancing of instrumentation in Closed Pages makes it the star of the album, in my opinion. Brien also stretches his vocal range a bit more here, and the song benefits from that exercise. The piano addition spans into Drifting Apart, which is piano accompanied vocal interlude. The more somber note of an ending relationship grounds the skilled ivory work well together. Come Back Home brings the return of guitar, and has the strongest representation of Brien’s vocal abilities. He also pairs with a skilled female singer for this one, and the duets are heart-warming. Small Steps has a bit more grit, leaning away from Mayer’s sound, and incorporates some more complex guitar riffs well. Always Remember is again piano and voice, and is a bitter sweet end to this recording, almost as if he’s talking to the listener and asking them to Always Remember the time they’ve spent with his music. It’s a move I’ve seen on closing live shows before, and I think it works here due to the highly emotional content of Closed Pages. We’ve seen a bit of Brien’s soul in this selection, and that’s not something to be forgotten easily.
Tracks: Beginning of Me and You, Keep You Moving on, Closed Pages, Drifting Apart, Come Back Home, Small Steps, Always Remember