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Album review

Oli Brown 

Here I Am

added: 6 Apr 2012 // release date: 9 Apr 2012 // label: Ruf
reviewer: Andy Snipper

Oli Brown - Here I Am - Printable version
Bloody hell! I have been following Oli Brown since he first emerged in 2003 and watching him grow through new band members, playing with all sorts of American stars and star producers on two excellent albums but I have to ask – “Where the hell did this come from?”
All of a sudden he is playing harder and darker and with so much confidence. His voice has developed and his songs are less generic and show a real touch of originality. Even when I saw his last year at the Jazz Cafe he wasn’t playing this well and he was on primo form that night.
He has added a Hammond player to the band – Joel White – and it adds a deeper dimension, very subtle in the mix but making a big difference. Scott Barnes bass playing is excellent and Wayne Proctor is a perfect engine for Brown’s songs and playing.

I have to say that I listened through the album to review it but it has been on my deck ever since simply because it is a great piece of Blues/Rock.
The album kicks off with the title track and immediately he is setting out a new stall, darker and more powerful as he proclaims “...no Jimi or Stevie, I wanna be my goddam self” and this is a fine self too. ’Thinking About Her’ has a sense of raunch and swagger about it and then we are back into the dark with ‘Manic Bloom’ with dark guitar against an oh, so subtle organ sound. When he softens a little for ‘All We Had To Give’ he really does have some soul and emotion in his vocal and turns it into a far more than ordinary break-up sone.
There are some other top numbers here; his version of Donny Hathaway’s ‘I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know’ captures exactly the right mood of pleading and depression for a great soul number and his solo is simply heart-wrenching while ‘Solid Ground’ featuring Paul Jones on Harp tails the album with a cracker and ‘Mr Wilson’ shows that he is capable of an old fashioned story-telling Blues as well.

He has been rumoured to be doing something a bit special and this is the proof of it – early contender for Blues album of the year? Definitely!


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5 stars

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