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CD REVIEW: John Brendan Russell – Family Portrait
By Ann Klein - 01/19/2005 - 08:08 PM EST

Artist: John Brendan Russell
Album: Family Portrait
CD Review: This cd is so cute! It’s like that great “G” movie, “Finding Nemo”, which I went to see with my over 30 boyfriend. We both loved it and we are jaded New Yorkers without children. That’s exactly what John Brendan Russell intended. Family Portrait is for the whole family and it succeeds in this endeavor. Musically, Russell’s tunes works on any adult contemporary country disc. He writes really catchy melodies, couched by well-crafted and intelligent arrangements. Every song is extremely well executed – Nashville style, adorned with mandolin, dobro, fiddle, etc. And whether you like country music or not, you can’t deny that those Nashville folks can play. There are a lot of tasty bits played by every musician, including the drummer. In addition, the production is super pro.

Lyrically, the songs are very well portrayed by the title of the disc, “Family Portrait”. The cd opens up with “Saturday Morning Bed” which describes a typical Saturday morning in households with kids: the parents are trying to sleep 5 minutes later and the kids are already asking for Sponge Bob and chocolate cake. It sounds corny, but it works. It is an accurate day in, I’m assuming, Russell’s life. Even though it involves the kids, the overall tone of this disc isn’t always happy and pappy. It’s often pensive, like in “He Wants To Be Like Me” which is about a son wanting to emulate his father and the responsibility the father becomes aware of. In other words, it doesn't run the risk of being overly schmaltzy.

Great concept, well done.

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