Tyler Brown – The Hollows (Independent)
As winter rolls ever onwards it’s unsurprisingly getting colder and wetter. In fact, rain’s lashing against the window as I type, and if I were a small, fictional, fat brown bear, I might well describe the erratic, stormy winds as blustery. Tyler Brown’s new album perfectly fits both my mood and the weather conditions. The North Carolina native has fashioned a collection that warms the soul – whatever that is – and generates an atmosphere that encourages serious listening.
Previous reviewers have mentioned similarities with Bon Iver, and Brown has also declared an interest, but the deliberate, perfectly measured arc of “The Hollows”, together with the sheer soulfulness of his performance, puts me in mind of early releases on the Secretly Canadian and Jagjaguwar labels, and artists/groups like Songs: Ohia and Drunk.
Often achingly beautiful, Brown’s songs run the gamut, from lonely abandonment to bright optimism. Opening cut “Color (Where We're Lying)” slowly reveals a narrative that suggests control and restraint, while a ponderous, calculated beat indicates exposure to Cocteau Twins and 4ad. Needless to say, it’s quite magnificent. The elegiac “Cage” mines much the same vein as Big Star’s devastating “Third/Sister Lovers” record, and when the tempo increases and the rhythms deviate (on “Weekend (Un Beso)”), the emotional resonance is diminished not one jot.