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REVIEW: PIETA BROWN - SHIMMER
Shimmer

Pieta Brown
Shimmer

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sonicboomers.com - 21 1 10
Japanese brush painting can be a deceptive art; at first glance it seems simple enough but on closer inspection there is nothing easy about it. The same with stripped-down music. Absent any high-gloss production or over-energetic instrumentation, a musician really has to have an inner greatness to succeed. And make no mistake: Pieta Brown sounds like someone to the kingdom born. There is clarity of strength in these seven songs that speaks of a vision rarely seen in someone so young. Produced by Don Was, who also plays string bass, and accompanied only by the elusive Bo Ramsey on electric guitar and harmony vocal, Brown adds her own acoustic guitar to give an austere but undeniable edge to everything here. Born in Iowa and raised mostly in Alabama, Pieta Brown lived a life on the move, which no doubt allowed her to hold on to images and emotions as much as tangible things. Father Greg Brown offered the role model for a musician's path, but the daughter definitely has found her own way. The original songs capture the delicate side of loves young life, but on Hey Joey and El Guero, she doesn?t back away from anything. Others, like Loving You Still and Diamonds in the Sky, are both fragile and fine-tuned. This woman may well one of the best modern songwriters we have. Her previous albums have all been knock-outs, but there is something about Shimmer that says it's a breakthrough. Back to that Japanese brush painting, and the way it can capture the eye with what looks like a minimum of effort. Of course, its takes endless hours to learn what to leave out and how to emphasis the really important elements in the painting. Pieta Brown has obviously put in the time. 
Now it's our turn to discover the beauty.



Kim Ruehl, nodepression.com

Shimmer is a lovely, raw, startlingly earnest album focused wholly on the stories Brown tells

Martin Jones, Rythms Magazine March 2010
Pieta brown has one of those voices that invites intimacy. Breathy and unaffected, it’s also quite small and easily drowned out. Acclaimed producer Don Was recognized such when he heard that voice on the radio one day and subsequently invited brown to record with him. The result is why Was is an acclaimed producer. Accompanied by little more than an acoustic guitar, Brown whispers seven songs like she’s sitting in the dark at the foot of your bed. And it’s utterly disarming.

The daughter of folk singer-songwriter Greg Brown, Pieta has recorded fairly steadily since her self-titled debut in 2002, and to my ears, the best stuff was always the quietest and most sparse. Pieta has always demonstrated a notable Dylan influence, especially in her vocal phrasing and pronunciation, so Was, having worked with His Bobness, knows exactly where she’s coming from.  He’s also wise enough to allow Shimmer’s tracks to settle into their natural resting place somewhere between folk and country, without pushing them in either direction. There’s the occasional sigh of country-ish slide guitar on album highlight ‘Lovin’ you Still’, and Bo Ramsey’s tremolo treated guitar gracefully haunts the record’s openness. Oohh, it’s pretty.

Looks like Vitamin are also releasing Pieta’s 2007 album ‘Remember The Sun’, a more diverse, urgent band record, though songs like ‘In My Mind I Was Talkin’ To Loretta’ and ‘Song For A Friend’ point in the direction of Shimmer.

Boy, it sure would have been nice to see Pieta’s name on this year’s Bluesfest bill.



Bruce Elder - Sydney Morning Herald April 2010

PIETA Brown's last album, Remember the Sun, was a classy example of alt-country that was lionised in discriminating music circles as one of the best albums of 2007. With Shimmer she turns her back on studio country styles and, with considerable help from producer Don Was, offers a short, seven-track album as sparse and minimal as the early albums of the Cowboy Junkies.

The result is a collection of original songs with an almost painful level of intimacy that was recorded live in two days (Brown is now on Red House Records, her father Greg's record label) with only an acoustic guitar, occasional string bass from Don Was and very minor electric guitar additions from long-time associate Bo Ramsey.

Listen to plaintive and gorgeous Hey Joey, the almost jazzy Over You and the lazy, bluesy Diamonds in the Sky and it is impossible to ignore Brown's remarkable ability to infuse simple songs with great emotional depth. Inevitably listeners will suggest similarities with Margo Timmins, Shawn Colvin, Lucinda Williams and Suzanne Vega but Brown is too original for the comparisons to be fair or illuminating.



LoneTony Joe for SA Roots and Blues


It doesn’t get any better than this. That is as long as you are tuned into bluesy folk rock alt. country post Appalachia. Actually , right now, there’s a need for better sub genre labels for stylish & sophisticated material like this.

One moment Pieta Brown’s supple feline drawl lulls you into a trance state (Innocent Blue) then next you’re rolling & pumping along (Sonic Boom) without noticing you ever changed gears. She rocks, she’s moody , she’s cool , she catty she carry’s you along with every song.

Behind her voice there’s a very tasty melding of laid back twang, chime & jangle, not all at once but weaving in and out as mood requires. Shining through every now and then are exquisite moments of J J Cale style guitar jewellery but provided here by Bo Ramsey. His multi faceted guitar work seems pretty essential to the chemistry here as he weaves a sense of weightless floating with slide, 12 string, acoustic, & electric guitars as well as Weissenborn (whats that?) . His own recent album “Bo Ramsey - Fragile’ is worth a visit also.

One of many highlights is “Thinking about Loretta’ … but I’m thinking Lucinda. Pieta Brown is unique but dwells in a world Lucinda Williams carved out. She would surely take some pleasure in spawning descendants like this.. On the other hand Pieta’s actual line of descent is through bull frog voiced rocking folker daddy Greg Brown . He’s another private treasure for many who feel his time is still coming … slowly. Daughter Pietta, who sounds nothing like her father, may have greater commercial reach with her infectious purrs & mews ….but who can tell …there aint no justice. Moreover, her new step- mum since 2002 is Iris De Ment. This is one serious music dynasty evolving here … would a family album be too much to hope for. Anyway being from a song writing family these are all her own songs & she sure inhabits them…as they say ..‘ sometimes i get to close to the sound …sonic boom ….sonic boom.’

Now in her mid 30s she is a confident , experienced, artist at her seductive peak …do not resist… just listen.

*Pieta Brown – Shimmer 2009 Red House Records (7 tracks)*
Recorded over 2 days with producer Don Was adding string bass to Pietas voice & Bo Ramsey’s guitar.

Gentler, quieter and even more intimate in feel than ‘ Remember the Sun”. Hauntingly minimal in fact. Almost a warm sleepy fireside mood to it. Less country twang but still that seductive lilt & intonation. She sounds so close up & alluring you wonder how the object of these love songs is anything other than her slave.





Billy Pinnell / ROOTS - JBHIFI Music Australia Guide

The 37 year old daughter of folk singer/songwriter Greg Brown, Pieta Brown has released an album of intimate, poetic country/folk/blues.

Produced with sensitivity by Don Was (The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Barbara Streisand), Brown's breathy unaffected voice is accompanied by her acoustic guitar, Was on string bass and the subtle textures of respected guitarist Bo Ramsey (Lucinda Williams, Calexico).

With the album recorded in two days, Brown's whispered vocals allow her to focus on telling her stories. Her simplicity and unadorned approach provide a refreshing musical experience.

4 1/2 stars