Brian Woodbury — Balladry & Soliloquy
(ReR Megacorp BW3 / Some Phil 11, 2020, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2020-09-05
Woodbury is a Los Angeles based songwriter, lyricist, producer, arranger, multi-instrumentalist, and all around wacky guy who composes for television, stage musicals, and his own quirky pop releases, which are anything but regular — though 2020 will be different with the Anthems and Antithets four disc set — two releases have already come out, and two further releases are promised, Balladry & Soliloquy being the second of four. The first of the four, Levity & Novelty, was more or less an album of novelty songs delivered in his unique style with dozens of other musicians and singers helping out, and while this one is really not that much different from it, it’s packed with 23 songs, most of which are guaranteed to put a smile on your face, but a few with more serious topics (like “Daddy’s Little Girl,” “His Last Regret” or “Going through Emotions”), but all are immediately identifiable as Woodbury’s work, a unique sound, borrowong from numerous genres but never sounding too serious or too attached to any one — I guess that’s what happens when you’ve got your hands is so many different things, musically speaking. There are a lot of standouts in this set: Sounding a bit like a soundtrack for an imaginary play, “Little Bitta This, Little Bitta That,” sung by guest singer Kathi Funston is almost guaranteed to remind of early 70s Olivia Newton John without the country shtick, a really solid pop song that will get stuck in the listener’s head. The fun romp of the dixieland-ish “New Car Smell” is barely a minute twenty seconds in length, but a load of fun with off-kilter lyrics like, "He’s got that new car smell, But he don’t ring her bell, He isn’t half as hot As he seemed on the lot, So how was she to tell?" The freedom conveyed via “On My Bike” is even more refreshing, with outstanding musicianship all around, and the lyric of “(You Break a Heart) You Own It” was never so true, a serious message delivered from father to son through experience. The fun country twang of “BYOB” features some superb pedal steel and banjo from primary cohort Marc Muller, and of course it leads into the album’s only cover, Woodbury’s interpretation of the sad Bee Gees tune “I Started a Joke.” On one level or another, every song here is superb, spanning the range of lyrical and stylistic content. My stock recommendation is to take a trip over to Woodbury’s Bandcamp page (link below) and take a listen for yourself.
Related artist(s): Brian Woodbury
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