Album Review: T. Graham Brown – ‘The Present’
January 28, 2015
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Following 2003’s The Next Right Thing, T. Graham Brown released a second independent album entitled The Present. The sixteen-song set was mostly a collection of cover tunes, some even spiritual in nature.
The title track was the project’s only single. It’s a predictable lyric about living life for today that comes off a bit preachy. There is some audible steel framing the chorus, which is nice to hear, although it is pretty faint.
The cover tunes are the bread and butter of the project. The Byrds’ “Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There is a Season)” is given a note-for-note reading faithful to the original while his version of Johnny Nash’s “I Can See Clearly Now” has somewhat of a Caribbean feel. “You’ve Got A Friend” is treated to a John Mayer-style bluesy arrangement that showcases Brown’s gospel tendencies. “Bridge Over Troubled Water” is faithful, too, and even adds a gospel choir to drive the message home.
Brown has a lot in common sonically with Huey Lewis, so it’s appropriate that he’d cover a Lewis’ tune. “Whole Lotta Lovin’” is treated in Brown’s signature style and he does a great job firmly within his comfort zone. “You Are The Sunshine of My Life” differs very little from the original yet Brown gives a spirited performance opposed to just phoning it in. “Put A Little Love In Your Heart” fits in lyrically with the rest of the album, but comes off very Vegas and Branson-esque, which is far from a compliment. “Just A Closer Walk With Thee” is a bit cheesy despite flourishes of organ throughout.
The Present, as a whole, isn’t a terribly enjoyable album and feels like a random covers project and not a cohesive set. Brown does sound comfortable with the material but there’s a feeling of – why? – hanging over the whole album. Once an artist goes independent it’s hard to find even respectable material, so I fully understand why he’d go this route, but that isn’t an excuse for turning in pointless covers that add nothing to any of the songs.