Eliot and James

get your ears to the tunes of Eliot Bronson’s captivating album James

photo David Joseph

 

By Rob Dickens

 

The Artist

Eliot Bronson

 

The Album

James

 

The Cover

 

The Release Date

August 25, 2017

 

The Introduction

Atlanta-based Americana singer-songwriter Bronson is originally from Baltimore.  Bronson grew up in a religious household – both his father and grandfather were Pentecostal ministers – and found shelter in music.  At age 15, he got his first guitar and started teaching himself to play. From local coffee houses and venues beyond Baltimore, sharpened his writing and performance.  A local following grew; the Baltimore Sun anointed him “a folk singing wunderkind.” Expanding his range, Bronson then toured as one-half of a duo.  They moved to Atlanta, and when his partner quit, persisted on his own.

Bronson has released three critically acclaimed solo albums and, prior to his solo career, was a member of The Brilliant Inventions.  He has won such esteemed songwriting awards as first place at Chris Austin Songwriting Contest at MerleFest and Eddie Owen Presents “Songwriter Shootout,” and he’s been a finalist at Kerrville Folk Festival, Rocky Mountain Folks Fest Songwriting Contest, and New Song Contest Lincoln Center NYC.

Bronson has released his next album James on August 25 via Rock Ridge Music.

 

The Recording

James was produced by Grammy Award-winning producer Dave Cobb (Sturgill Simpson, Jason Isbell, Chris Stapleton), who also produced Bronson’s most recent, self-titled album.

As well as Bronson’s vocals, he plays acoustic guitar, harmonica, mellotron and keyboards.  Other players are Cobb (high-strung guitar, electric guitar, mellotron, percussion), Bret Hartley (electric guitar, lap steel), Brian Allen (bass), Chris Powell (drums, percussion) and Kristen Rogers (backing vocals).

The album was recorded at Cobb’s Low Country Sound studios in Nashville.

 

The Quotes

“It was a pleasure working with Eliot,” says Cobb. “He is a brilliant lyricist and poet.”

“Dave Cobb’s honesty and old-fashioned vibe were so appealing to me,” Bronson says. “They leant themselves to the way I created. And, of course, it was a huge boost to have this great artist/producer at your back.” Cobb and Bronson had worked together previously on his 2014 release, Eliot Bronson. “But this album is different,” Bronson points out. “It’s more sparse and economical. My voice is stronger. And I think it’s a step away from the purely Americana vibe of the last one in a direction that I have a hard time defining. I’m excited to discover how this music will define itself.  I’m immensely proud of this record. It’s the best thing I’ve done. I can’t wait to share it with everyone.”

 

The Clip

Here’s a solo acoustic version of one of the new tracks “Good Enough”:

 

 

The Track List

1. Breakdown in G Major

2. Good Enough

3. The Mountain

4. Stranger

5. Rough Ride

6. Hard Times

7. Rollin Down A Line

8. Mercy

 

The Verdict

My son pointed out the other day that three of the last four of my albums of the year were produced by Dave Cobb.  That is correct, but an unconscious truth on my part.  I played and enjoyed James many times before becoming aware of Cobb’s role in the album, so I feel safe in declaring my affection for Eliot Bronson and his latest collection without being blinded by Cobb’s deft influence here.  The opening track “Breakdown In G Major” could have been lifted on Dylan’s Blonde On Blonde with its relentless rhythm, harmonica and intricate guitar work.  “Good Enough” captures a relationship in its final stage (with much more depth than in the above clip version).  A pure delight follows in “The Mountain”, with its guitar hook and Bronson’s perfect, plaintive vocals, while the delicate and melodious “Stranger” captivates.  “Rough Ride” is immensely powerful, a reference of outrage for Freddie Gray who fell unaccountably into a coma in the back of a Baltimore police van.

At eight songs and thirty minutes, its brevity adds to its lustre.  Eliot Bronson’s James is a remarkable statement.  I missed him perform at this year’s Americana Music Festival – I will not let that happen again.

 

via Rock Ridge Music and Skye Media

 

get your ears to the tunes of Eliot Bronson’s captivating album James

 

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Author: Rob Dickens

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