CD REVIEW: Brandon Michael Williams - A Good Balance
By Cyrus Rhodes - 11/16/2011 - 12:31 AM EST
Artist: Brandon Michael Williams
Album: A Good Balance
Label: Independent Artist
Sounds Like: Jack Johnson, Todd Rundgren, Michael Buble
Technical Grade: 8/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 8/10
Commercial Value: 7/10
Overall Talent Level: 10/10
Songwriting Skills: 9/10
Performance Skill: 9/10
Best Songs: My Love , Candle, Love, Faith Peace
Weakness: Overbearing Mix, Lack of Flow and Ebb Factor
Mississippi’s own Brandon Michael Williams releases his latest CD entitled A Good Balance in 2011. His bio spells it out pretty well: A Good Balance is an experiment in melody and genre-defying music held down by a similar voice and instrumentation.
The CD quickly takes flight with “Trying” an dynamic piano driven groove that serves up steady rock groove against catchy vocal melodies and hooky chorus from Williams. Track 2 is hands down my personal favorite “My Love, May We” shifts gears with its smooth flowing beat with heartfelt vocal melody line from Williams. Track 2 evolves into a solid rock groove with clever lyrical content and impressive vocal accents to boot - an amazing piece. Track 3 “Palm” serves up a hypnotic rock groove with dynamic rhythm, against impressive piano and strings accent along the ways. As the CD slowly unfolds I can hear many musical influences reminiscent of classic Todd Rundgren, John Mayer, Michael Buble, The Beetles and perhaps a splash of Jack Johnson. This CD makes a pretty solid first impression. Right from the start you will notice rich musical textures overflowing everywhere, full of warmth, variety and strong melodic structure. I would classify this music as catchy pop rock, with a slight aftertaste of alternative folk. The songs themselves are addictive and upbeat, complete with positive, carefree subject matter. The musicianship of this band is pretty solid across the board. The players themselves write and play there parts extremely well song for song. Make no bones about it – these are top flight players. Along the way you will notice lush layers of instrumentation layered everywhere. Besides the 4 piece standard you will also catch impressive things well placed Horn Section, Piano, Harp, Obe, Flute, Alto Saxophone, Mandolin, Trumpet, Solo Guitar, impressive rhythm section and well placed string accents. Williams’ voice works well across the board as he fills the sonic space peacefully and unobtrusively. It will at times remind you of a cross between Sugar Ray and Gordon Gano (Violent Femmes).I might add Williams takes many vocal risks indicating to me a strong and confident vocal ability. All songs are short and sweet musical experiences. From dynamic “Candle” to grooving “Everything’s Alright” to heartfelt “Be with Me” to striking “Sold” this CD has something for just about everyone. The CD ends with Track 11 “The Beautiful Red Tree” the perfect finale statement for a CD of this caliber.
It’s fair to say this is one of the brightest, in your face mixes I have ever come across. Over time this production will wear on the ears and strip your senses down to their core. As a result the CD ironically lacks musical depth and is comparable to a BOLD FONT IN YOUR FACE FOR 45+ MINUTES. Listen to the piano intro on track 7 and as your head throbs in pain maybe then you'll understand what I am talking about. These types of mixes are becoming more and more popular these days and are really designed to maximize radio marketability - but there are pro and cons when taking this approach. As a result the CD lacks what I call peak and valley or flow and ebb factor. I fully realize this is a subjective art form, but many of the aforementioned issues do affect the CD’s overall marketability. All songs over 3.5 minutes tend to drag you to the finish line.
A Good Balance is an impressive musical production from start to finish. The music is consistent; the messages are upbeat, carefree and sung from a positive perspective. It’s strong suit – the wide musical variety and musical warmth of Williams and company. He possesses enough musical talent and songwriting prowess to be extremely dangerous. The musicianship is first rate. Once again the vocals, vocal harmonies and melodic accents are brilliantly placed and extremely well crafted. The messages are packed to the hilt with rich conventional wisdom offering hope and compassion along the way. As a listener I remained entertained the entire time. A Good Balance will not only make you want to dance, but will also lift your spirits in the process.
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