The Good Thief
First Appeared in The Music Box, March 2005, Volume 12, #3
Written by T.J. Simon
John Brannen is a singer-songwriter from coastal South Carolina with a rather transparent devotion to Bruce Springsteen. On his debut The Good Thief, he delivers a dozen original compositions in the Springsteen tradition including the albumís best-written number When Iím Satisfied as well as Summer in Savannah, which showcases vivid lyrics that paint a picture of a unique American city. On Donít Wanna Lose Like that Again, he even took the time to nick the opening harmonica lick from The River. Elsewhere, hints of Mark Knopflerís days with Dire Straits permeate the track A Pair of Dice, and shades of Nils Lofgren fill Waiting, particularly on its adept guitar solo. Brannenís biggest liability, however, is his sub-par voice, which sounds like an off-key Roy Orbison or an old jalopy, puttering on an empty tank. His mimicry of Springsteenís guttural moan ruins otherwise decent compositions including the album opener Witches Rain, and the addition of capable background vocalists, genuinely talented support musicians, and top-notch production only serve to accentuate his serious limitations. The saddest part of The Good Thief is that Brannen is clearly a capable songwriter, producer, and guitar player, and in the hands of a better vocalist ó like, say, Springsteen, Lofgren, or Knopfler ó any one of these tunes could have been hits. Unfortunately, Brannen chose to perform the songs himself.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2005 The Music Box