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Music Review - `Heart on Fire ` by Abby Brown (jh)

Abby Brown  - Heart on Fire  (click on image to watch video)

07 October 2019 

 

Heart on Fire is the second EP for Boston-based Abby Brown following her acclaimed Gypsy Soul on this same label, Pure Music Nashville.  The label has singer-songwriters fronting a studio band of some of the city’s best musicians. (You’ll see this same approach, with a slightly different cast of musicians for Henrietta Swan as well).  

Brown may be better known for performing with two of her sisters in the trio, Flatiron Junction, which has toured nationally and performed the National Anthem at Fenway Park and Coors Field.  Brown is the eldest of seven children, who began singing professionally at the age of seven before progressing to both a solo and trio act.  Hers is a survival story, overcoming several spinal surgeries and hearing loss, she continued to persevere because of her passion for music. She’s also lived in six cities in the U.S. and is able to draw from material from varied experiences. While she will surely point to the usual inspirers like Emmylou and Alison Krauss, Brown has her pulse on the contemporary scene too as evidenced by covering Maren Morris’ ”Sugar,” as one of the five tracks. 

Brown has a rich, clear alto that somewhat resembles Emmylou’s.  She opens with “Everyday Of My Life,”  a bouncy rock-pop song, punctuated by the swirling B3 of Brother Paul Brown and mandolin plucking of Ethan Ballinger.  The title track is driven more by her acoustic guitar, beginning calmly before building into a rouser complete with handclap chorus, background vocals from Tom Hambridge’s daughters Sarah and Rachel, and a three-piece string section, arranged by fiddler Maria Conti.

 “Love, Release Me,” appears twice, denoted as  “plugged,” and “unplugged.” So, there are three Brown originals among the five. This one is a bit difficult to pin down. She sounds sincere enough in her plea for release but it’s not clear whether she wants release from the relationship or just wants to free herself so she can fall in love. The other angle is that she’s hopelessly in a love relationship that she regrets, knowing it’s not quite right. She keeps echoing “gotta let go.”

Brown strips Morris’ “Sugar,” of its excess but still gives it plenty of punch with acoustic guitars and Brother Paul’s organ. Morris, as you probably know, has attained considerable success on commercial radio but also has a more traditional country approach as one of the four HIghwomen. It seems like Brown is trying to straddle similar ground.  She’s got the chops and hopefully a full-length will be coming soon.

 

 

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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