New York singer/songwriter Brian Gari’s follow up to his ‘Names Vol One’ album from the previous year.
Written by: Explorer
ARTIST: Brian Gari
ALBUM: Names Volume 2
LABEL: Original Cast Records
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
LINEUP: Peter Millrose – all instruments, backing vocals * Brian Gari – guitars, piano, additional backing vocals * Jason Kendall – sax * Maria Grigoryeva – violin on ‘Alexandra’
TRACK LISTING: 01 Tim * 02 Maureen * 03 Brigid (I Know I Frighten You) * 04 Sandra * 05 Darlin’ Darla * 06 Diane * 07 I Can’t Change You Diane * 08 Kathe * 09 Jana I Know Your Ex * 10 Elizabeth * 11 Clara’s Record Store * 12 Liz * 13 Dustin * 14 Kristen * 15 Nat * 16 Angelique * 17 Tom & Jill * 18 Alexandra * 19 Slow Movin’ Sam
BONUS TRACKS: 20 There’s A Cinder In Cindy’s Eye (1969) * 21 Tim (Alt Mix) * 22 Elizabeth (Track)
This is Brian Gari’s third album in a relatively short space of time after some ten years away from recording, and as the title implies this is follow on from Names Vol One which was released just over a year ago.
The cover is a neat play on the recent Paul McCartney III album, very much in keeping with Brian’s ‘Jeanne’s Album’ which took its inspiration from Jazz man Chet Baker.
All the songs here draw on Brian’s experiences with people who he’s had the opportunity to meet throughout his life, and putting them into song is a pretty neat idea and one that really works.
Including bonuses, there’s a whopping 22 tracks to enjoy, and all of them see Brian Gari conveying his emotions and experiences without ever getting too mawkish. Helped out once again by collaborator Peter Millrose, everything here exudes a quiet classiness.
Throughout, the song’s arrangements always compliment the message. As with his previous releases I can detect his influences. Which in the main are the singer/songwriters from that golden period of the 60’s and early 70’s.
The album opener ‘Tim’ is a perfect example of Brian’s writing, all about an acquaintance who loved The Beach Boys and had the chance of working with them but inexplicably turned it down is a joy and ‘Jana I Know Your Ex’ is a quite playful piece regarding rejected lovers.
With tracks such as ‘Clara’s Record Store’, ‘Nat’ and ‘Slow Movin’ Sam’ the storytelling is really lovely, the first two telling tales of long lost record shops and music promotion people, which really give an insight to sort of people Brian Gari would meet on his colourful journey through his life.
The album production is always complimentary to the songs, offering up at times an intimate vibe, and at others a quite expansive sweeping feeling.
An engaging listen that once again reminded me of the works of the likes of Roger Nichols, Rupert Holmes, and particularly in the lyric writing Randy Newman, with at times a real sharpness to them, but without the cutting cynicism that Newman was renowned for.
The running time of 55 minutes goes really quite quickly, evidence that I found myself getting immersed in the album and the stories Brian had to tell.
As I mentioned in my earlier reviews of his albums, it`s not me necessarily mellowing out, but most certainly diversifying. This album is perfect late night listening, and one that has been a regular in my CD player since getting hold of it a few weeks ago.
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