The spirited composer, producer, and songwriter William Ben Brooks has put forth an incredible offering with his new album titled A Broken Beast. Brooks’ particular brand of Americana genius is furthered layered by some outstanding folk-rock tracks and contributions from a powerful line-up of Grammy and Emmy winning players: Catherine Russell (David Bowie and Steely Dan), Ms. Nicki Richards (currently backing Madonna) and Janie Burnett (Linda Ronstadt, Rickie Lee Jones), multi-Emmy winner, Robbie Kondor (Eric Clapton, Aretha Franklin, Billy Joel) and Grammy nominee Kelvin Wooten (Al Green, Macy Gray) on keyboards and Jon Gordon (Suzanne Vega and Madonna) on guitars, and bass.
A Broken Beast is comprised of fourteen soulful tracks. Each song acts as a dimensional step in the beauty of the album. Below are a few notes that stood out in my mind while listening to A Broken Beast.
And I Heard: This marvelous and inventive folk-rock groove certainly captures the listener’s attention. The melody is layered with acoustic instrumentation that complements And I Heard’s flaring guitar.
Blindside: A great charismatic tune that unveils Brooks’ inventiveness. Blindside incorporates the craftiness of acoustic and electric guitar, resulting in this great track.
Remedy: A soulful and soothing musical landscape, Brooks paints a bluesy groove, which is very captivating.v The song makes crafty use of funky guitar rhythms. Brooks’ witty expression of longing and romance are lyrically innovative.
You and Me: Themes of romance continue to pervade throughout the album. In the case of You an Me, we find s story of a troubled romance and a search for a way to heal the union. Brooks provides a terrific vocal performance.
The Beauty of It All: An upbeat charmer that begins with solo piano and Brooks’ warm voice making a strong case of determination.
Sweet Safe and Sound: This is one song that pulls its country music elements into the forefront of the track’s structure. The melodic measures and resolve put forth by Brooks in the track’s lyricism.
It Is What It Is: A very deep tune that presents a great sense of musicianship. The track’s rich organ sound and riveting electric guitar constitute a great gospel-like performance.
Worse Case Scenario Number 139: A very colorful melody with great backing vocals are very strong. Its also good to hear the exoticness of the fiddle.
Saved Me for Last: A downtempo pianist track where Brooks executes an emotional ballad.
Too Soon: Brooks picks up the pace with this upbeat rocker. The track has a great hook and guitar play.
We Ain’t Going Anywhere: Great track with strong ties to the nostalgic sound of the 1960s, made surreal by the lead guitar.
In This Room: A sparkling acoustic jewel that draws the listener’s attention from the elegant melody and soft rhythms.
Lisa’s Lullaby: Brooks finishes this masterful work with an organic charm that captures the timelessness of the overall project.
A Broken Beast by William Ben Brooks is truly a masterpiece. Brooks has a created a work that remains consistent with the traditions, values, and quality of popular music classics preceding it. Within his creative genius, Brooks has also set a standard of musicianship that is entertaining and a work of art to be studied by the academic world. Bravo!
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