CD REVIEW: Brandon White - In My Younger Dreams
by: Cyrus Rhodes
Label: Brandon White Music
Genre: Americana, Rock, R&B, Folk
Sounds Like: Bon Jovi, Paul Davis, Bob Dylan, Counting Crows, Paul Simon, Woody Guthrie, Bruce Springsteen
Technical Grade: 8/10
Weakness: A few short sided songs, Short sided CD, Cover art Concept
Arkansas based Singer/Songwriter Brandon White just released his latest CD entitled In my Younger Dreams in 2013. Described as “The Killer Young Talent from Arkansas” by 2x Grammy Award Winning Producer/Engineer, Ross Hogarth- Brandon White is quickly making a name for himself in the Independent Music scene. In 2009 White released his acclaimed debut EP, “Streetlight Lullabies” to rave reviews from fans, podcasts and blogs from all over the world. The EP continues to receive regular airplay from Independent stations around the United States, Europe and Australia and features some of LA’s most celebrated session musicians such as Tim Pierce (Bruce Springsteen, Michael Jackson, Meat Loaf, The Goo Goo Dolls, etc.), Dorian Crozier (Shinedown, Pink, Adam Lambert, etc.) And also features the production and engineering work of Hogarth.
The CD lifts off the ground nicely with Track 1, “Straight Shooter" a heartfelt flowing ballad that serves up an earthy guitar-driven groove, meshed against impassioned vocals and sad but true soulful melody from White. Track 2, “These Paths Crossing” shifts gears a bit with a steady flowing rhythm and well placed Americana-Folk-Piano ambience painted against a grand slam chorus and impressive musical finale making for an impressive follow-up statement. Track 3, “Bitter and Bright” is another ballad that dishes out a rock steady R&B rhythm, and some well placed vocal harmonies that flows and ebbs its way through to motional fruition. The CD makes a strong first impression, dashing out 3 very solid songs in a row. The musicianship involved is above the bar. I would classify this music as classic Singer/Songwriter. Pop/Americana, with brief touches of Modern Folk, and even light rock. White's music is reminiscent of classic Jon Bob Jovi, Bob Dylan, Counting Crows, Woody Guthrie, and Bruce Springsteen. Along the way you will notice lush instrumentation with well placed solo guitar, Acoustic and Rhythm Guitar, sporadic Organ and Piano, lush harmonies all built upon a ‘thick as a brick’ rhythm section. What I like the most about White and his band, is how well they seem to groove together, testament to hundreds of hours of writing and rehearsal time no doubt. Now turning our attention over to White. As for his vocal abilities - he’s a great advent for the Singer/Songwriter genre. His voice goes down smooth and fills the space peacefully and unobtrusively with a timbre that is s bit infectious. He keeps reminding me of Jon Bon Jovi behind the microphone. I might add he takes some impressive vocal risks indicating to me a confident vocal ability. He commands an effective baritone, falsetto and vibrato as well. All songs are well crafted and consistent across the board - world class Songwriting. All production aspects check out. Within the sonic spectrum I enjoyed the solid low end punch and the crystal clear high end clarity. This latest effort from Brandon White delivers 9 solid timeless tracks all providing musical enjoyment filled with strong heartfelt musical variety and diversity. The music of Brandon White has everything you would expect from a world class musical production. From striking “Yellow Rose” to rocking “Take my Time” and I’ve Had Enough” to heartfelt “Taste of California” to melodic ‘Working Boy” this CD has something for just about everyone. The CD ends with Track 9 “In My Younger Dreams” the perfect finale statement for a CD like this.
It’s hard to find any serious weaknesses with this release. All songs under 3 minutes feel like incomplete statements to me. CD is a bit short with just 9 songs. Typically 15 songs are needed to make it a fully loaded full length release. During some of the slower moments he comes on a bit strong. I recommend he step back from the mic, dial back the intensity a bit and showcase a slow, heart-stopping baritone during all the pin drop moments. At the end of the day people don't but plastic, they buy emotions. I don’t care how the vocal sit within the sonic space - very bright and in your face. This approach is designed to maximize radio marketability, but at the end of the day it can be a real wear on the ears. CD cover art is a missed opportunity at best especially within this up close and personal singer/songwriter genre.
From start to finish, "In My Younger Dreams” by Brandon White is an impressive collection of music. The songwriting is gold standard – full of consistent musical experiences, each one possessing a unique personality, flair, and signature groove. Note for note, song for song, there isn’t really a weak piece in this entire catalog. The writing and playing abilities of Brandon White are rock solid. The melodies and harmonies are well crafted, and the lyrical content is packed to the hilt with good old-fashioned conventional Americana Singer-songwriter wisdom. At the end of the day White brings the mojo, and is clearly a marquee talent. One would be wise to keep a watchful eye on him over the years to come – perhaps in California.