So Much More
First Appeared in The Music Box, May 2008, Volume 15, #5
Written by John Metzger
Tue May 20, 2008, 06:30 AM CDT
Brett Dennen may have been only 25 years old when he issued his sophomore effort So Much More. Yet, the first thing that one is apt notice about the endeavor is how wearily resigned he sounds during Ainít No Reason, the albumís opening cut, as he laments the inability of the human race to forsake its materialistic pursuits. Itís no wonder, then, that on the subsequent There Is So Much More, he is driven to contemplate what awaits him after he dies. Rather than exuding an unshakeable sense of despair, however, Dennen bathes his words with music that echoes the fusion of folk and soul that emerged in the early 1970s, and by doing so, he offers a warm embrace that highlights the setís other running theme: love will conquer all.
So Much More is poised at the crossroads where Bob Dylanís Blonde on Blonde, Steve Forbertís Jackrabbit Slim, and Paul Simonís Graceland intersect, and it feels almost as if its genesis sprang from an epiphany that Dennen had while listening to these albums in sequence. He not only responds to Forbertís Romeoís Tune with his own composition Sheís Mine, but Dennen also leans on Forbertís romantic, soft-rock style, using it as the basis for his soulful articulations. Similarly, he borrows Simonís ebullient, South African-band-in-New Orleans grooves, and on tracks like Darliní Do Not Fear and When You Feel It, he deploys them to wash away his dour mood so that he can take solace in the love that surrounds him.
Although Dennen got the ideas for how to frame his work from Forbert and Simon, itís Dylan whose influence festers in his lyrics as well as his sense of rhythm and rhyme. The seeds that grew into Because You Are a Woman were planted in the fertile soil of Dylanís Just Like a Woman, while The One Who Loves You the Most alludes, at times, to Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again. Likewise, on I Asked When, Dennen revisits A Hard Rainís A-Gonna Fall, and from it, he sculpts his own diatribe for the modern age. To his credit, Dennen doesnít cop his ideas directly from his musical ancestors, but rather he twists and bends what they accomplished to suit his own needs. Itís rare for young artists to get this portion of the equation correct, and even rarer that they have the wherewithal to concoct a song cycle that convincingly makes them sound wise beyond their years. Nevertheless, as So Much More digs deeply into the heart of the human condition, Dennen also manages to retain his idealism by finding that no matter how dark it gets, there always will exist the hope that love brings.
Of Further Interest...
So Much More is available from
Barnes & Noble. To order, Click Here!
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2008 The Music Box