Singer/songwriter Jay Brown of the Lazybirds reaches into folk and country influences on new solo album


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Just because Jay Brown is in the Lazybirds doesn't mean he is one. On the contrary, Brown is probably one of the busiest young musicians in the scene. With the Lazybirds, Brown has gradually built a devoted fan base with the group's foot-stomping hybrid of ragtime and blues; moreover, Brown's tireless work ethic and creative versatility is expansive enough to find its presence known in the vintage jazz of Swing Guitars and the spicy world music of Shantavaani.

However, the depths of Brown's imagination isn't even plumbed by the number of acts that he is currently involved in. Brown's latest solo effort, The Jester, reaches into Brown's affection for folk and classic country, even '60s psychedelic rock. Brown's focus here is mainly on American roots music, and he accomplishes in capturing the raw intimacy and southern grit of his inspirations.

The jumpy backbeat, searing harmonica, and unvarnished acoustic guitars of the first cut, “Be Here Now," establishes Brown's no-frills approach. This record is not one of those overly polished singer/songwriter releases, one that is seemingly aiming for a stripped-down sound but has enough studio gloss to wax a car. No, Brown keeps it real, stays true to his dedication to authenticity. “Like a Bird With a Broken Wing" finds Brown connecting with his country influences, and credit the man for not sounding neither like contemporary Nashville nor the trendy alt-country bandwagon. Much of the instrumentation is courtesy of Brown himself, his self-described “One-Man-Band." The guy plays a kicking harmonica, too, especially on “I'm the Jester, She's the Queen."

Traces of Brown's eclecticism aren't difficult to pinpoint, but perhaps nothing as obvious as the otherworldly psychedelia of “Dr. Sethi." Named after a real Indian musician, the song offers a glimpse of Brown's globe-trotting adventures. In its own way, the album does as well, probing deep into the heart of Americana.

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