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Music Review - 'Overdue` by Severin Browne (jh)

Severin Browne -  Overdue (click on image to watch video)

28 May 2021 

 

To say that Severin Browne has been overshadowed by his older brother Jackson, is rather obvious. This might well be the first time you’ve heard of Severin, who also has the songwriting gift. His voice, while pleasant enough, just isn’t as distinctive and naturally warm as his older sibling.  The main reason that Severin has remained under the radar though, likely lies with career choices. In 1971 Severin signed on as a staff writer for Motown Records.  He did release two albums in the early ‘70s but his output has been sporadic at best since, the aptly named Overdue being his sixth.

To be fair, Browne has put his energy into a collective called the Tall Men Group for the past eight years, a collective of you got it, tall men who agree to write 10 songs each year to a common prompt and perform in the L.A. area. Browne though, is often prompted by his loyal fans to put out an album of his own songs every so often.  He is a natural storyteller, playing acoustic guitar and accompanied by 13 musicians in the credits, although some play on just one track, notably Freebo and Grammy-nominated Teresa James among them. Browne draw from soul, reggae, and jazz roots in a sound described on previous albums as “west coast pop” but it easily fits under the big tent of Americana. Edward Tree’s production is smooth and lean enough to allow Browne’s vocals and lyrics to come through clearly thankfully as Browne is a terrific lyricist.

The opening lines to the first track “Young and Free” begin with this verse – “I remember driving through the desert late at night, massive semis shaking my poor bug. A lightning storm was raging, lighting up the chaparral, like God was finally cleaning this old rug.” His use of metaphors to paint visual images is impressive. He tells the story of the nuclear disaster in Japan in haiku in “Fukushima Sunset” and uses the analogy in “Sparkling River” to describe to guide life’s many changes – “My life is not so clear to me. /I am a river, but I don't know how to find the sea./Every thought, every action, means more than we know./ Still I go with the flow.”

The title track is filled with liberating lines of the joy of playing music again after recounting all those classic artists of the ‘70s – “We all worked for years, we raised our families…The kids are gone, the amps are on, and we can play whatever songs we please.” Yet Browne is clearly aware of contemporary issues too as his “Miguel and Maria” describes the harrowing tale of a couple and their young infant traumatized by the violence of a local gang who murdered their first born.

Browne comes across a music veteran that knows his way around songs. Many of them are the typical subjects of love, unrequited love, character sketches, and self-reflections but his scope is wide. The easy listening, pleasant James Taylor-like pop musical veneer often masks the detailed lyrics, which add up to Browne not only being ‘overdue’ but too easily ‘overlooked’ as well for his natural writing gift.

 

Jim Hynes

 

 

Jim Hynes is an independent contributor on music for several magazines, including Elmore and Country Standard Time. He has also written for Variety. He was a listener-supported public station(s) radio host for 25 years in CT, MI, NJ and PA. He is also a Live music host/Emcee at several national and regional venues.

To Read All of Jim's Reviews, Click Here

 

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