Under The Sun

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Greg Brown can't sing. This is really sad, because he's as brilliant a lyricist as any songwriter I know of. But his voice is so off-putting (to me at least) that I didn't realize that when I heard him in concert. It took me until I heard Joan Baez cover one of his songs.

The song was "Rexroth's Daughter", and it appears on and lends the title to Baez's new CD, Dark Chords On A Big Guitar, like her earlier Gone From Danger a set of ten covers of other artists. Dark Chords is, well, darker than Gone From Danger, both thematically and musically, but it's almost as good. I personally don't care for tragic ballads like "Caleb Meyer", and I'm still not sure about "Rosemary Moore", but "Rexroth's Daughter" is marvelous, "Sleeper" (another Greg Brown lyric) is almost as good, and none of the other tracks disappoint. The arrangements, mostly featuring strong guitar chords leading powerful percussion, suit the songs, and Baez's taste in lyrics remains infallible; add her brilliantly expressive voice and the result is art that will last.

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