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CD REVIEW: Chris Brown - Hangin' In
By Jane Eamon - 12/29/2005 - 08:13 PM EST

Artist: Chris Brown
Album: Hangin' In
CD Review: Man, this guy has a lot to say. Words, words, words and more words. I was over-whelmed. I kept hoping for the song that had short snappy phrases and tight little tunes, but alas, not on Chris Brown’s CD, Hangin’ In.

Recorded live at The Towne Crier Café in Pawling, NY, Brown’s CD, Hangin’ In is a collection of 13 original tunes in the alternative folk genre. With a voice that reminded me of Gordon Lightfoot and words that brought Leonard Cohen to mind, the similarities ended there. Every song seemed jam-packed with ideas, words and verse after verse after verse.

Brown certainly can turn a phrase and I was grateful for the words he sent me, they were not included on the CD.

I think the song that stuck with me the most was Scarf From Elvis, which he co-wrote with Peter Calo. But I found myself wishing for a little Ian Tyson lyricism. A little more shortness in the phrasing.

I was looking for a hurtin’ song. Brown could sing that kind of song well. Even the arrangements spoke to me of hurtin’ and travellin’, but Brown did not deliver. One song in particular stood out as a more than a little odd…. Dominoes. It had a happy snappy tune and it’s a very sad song and seven verses long. Wow. There’s a good message but it’s long and the tune doesn’t seem to fit the tone of the words. Someone once told me that a fit between music and words is as important as the words themselves.

I’m thinking Brown should have a listen to people like John Hiatt and Greg Brown. Maybe try a little genre writing to loosen up his grip on words. Try writing to a traditional country song. Other genres can teach us a lot. They can open the doors to other ways of thinking.

For more information, Brown is on the web at

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