Brett Dennen is a truly inspired poet. He can put words together
in ways that make loose sense, yet sound very different than anyone
else might put them together. His somewhat rambling style is endearing
and makes for a pleasurable listen, unless you pay attention to what
he's talking about. On his latest release, So Much More, Dennen
incites contemplation of current affairs, love, and the darkness that
comes bundled with life, but does it all with a panache that urges
the listener to think and feel beyond what the daily doldrums inspire.
This is art.
Album opener "Ain't No Reason" is a challenge, relating
snapshots of life in a way that creates introspection and a thoughtful
re-accounting of the world that surrounds us. The song is based on
a beautiful finger-picked guitar rhythm and Dennen's weirdly compelling
voice. When I first heard Brett sing, I assumed he was a woman, and
his voice still reminds me of an old-school, blues singer (less raspy,
but think Nina Simone or someone like that)
his voice is very distinctive and draws the listener in easily to
pay heed to his little observations. Lead radio single "There
Is So Much More" builds the sound a bit more, with rolling drums
and a very deliberate rhythmic statement and a dark reflection on
the world around as Dennen leads the listener through his own inner
There is something intimately familiar about the music on So Much
More, and as the album progresses it becomes clear that Dennen
has the same ability at crafting pop songs as the inimitable Paul
Simon. The songs echo with the same kind of easy grace that so
much of Simon's music has contained over the decades, creating a sense
of familiarity and wonder that adds even more power to the songs.
The easy Calypso feel of "Darlin' Do Not Fear" drives this
point home like no other, with a guitar line reminiscent of some of
which is not to say that Dennen's music is derivative
in any way, but that the influence is obvious. The difference between
honor and imitation is obviously in one's ability to sound similar,
but retain one's own distinctive sound and voice, and Dennen does
that in spades.
The songs on Brett Dennen's latest release So Much More showcase
his keen songwriting abilities and brilliant musical abilities. Dennen's
songs are highly lyrical, filled with observations on the world around
and the inner workings of the spirit, accompanied by an astute musicianship
that is easy on the ear and heart. This is a rare musical package;
the songs cause deep contemplation of the world's state, while inspiring
the spirit to soar with joy and a sense of wonder at that same diverse
and wondrous world. Like history's great works of art, Dennen's So
Much More causes the human spirit to soar higher than daily life
would normally allow, reminding us all that life is a majestic and
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