April 3, 2007

Okay, okay, I’ll listen: Brett Dennen

“He’s timeless — he’s probably twenty-five, but he seems like he’s twenty-five in 1972.”
- Rolling Stone

I am happily on the music advisory panel for KBCO Radio up out of Boulder and was just taking their April survey of 4 songs they are thinking of adding. The last one was completely new to my ears (the other three I knew right away and liked) and so I Googled a bit of the lyrics to see who I was enjoying.

The name that came back to me was California singer-songwriter Brett Dennen. He’s from Oakdale, which is a tiny town I know in California whose greatest feature is either their rodeo I went to once (for real) or the Hershey factory on the way to Yosemite that makes the air smell really, really edible.

The funny thing is that when I also did a search on my gmail for Brett Dennen (because I knew I’d heard the name before), I got multiple results of emails from you readerfolk ranging back to last October telling me to take a listen to this guy. So okay, I give, and I should’ve given sooner. I can be stubborn sometimes. Kid has talent, music has verve, there is a unique voice here that I enjoy. It’s a expressive tenor that cracks and wavers, and makes your ears perk up and stop to take a closer listen. The music is generally acoustic guitar finger-picking-based but with underlying elements of understated funk and reggae that elevates these songs beyond sad-sap fare to something pretty catchy. I’ll admit I hear influence as widely ranging as Paul Simon, Ben Harper, Paolo Nutini, and Jack Johnson.

My only regret (petty, selfish woman) is that he just got tapped to open for John Mayer and I am now even farther from liking John Mayer than I was before, after reading Weiss’ slamdunk lampoon on him (“Yo, J, y’all“). But it’s definitely good for Brett to get the exposure. He’s got a slew of tour dates coming up, some with folks like Suzanne Vega and Damien Rice, and I hear very positive things about his live shows.

She’s Mine – Brett Dennen
(this is the laid-back sunshiney tune that first piqued my attention)

When You Feel It – Brett Dennen
(wonderful echoes of Graceland/Paul Simon in those opening notes)

Both of the above from the 2006 record So Much More, wherein he looks like a red-headed Roy Orbison.
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10 Comments »

  • the article you linked to about john mayer was HILARIOUS. I was happy to search your blog today and read all your postings on paolo nutini, and I liked the stuff about brett dennen today too :)

    your brother — April 3, 2007 @ 7:34 pm

  • Hea-ther!! I don’t know why you dislike John Mayer so. I admit that a couple of his radio hits are cheesy, but the work on his albums is great. I’ve made you a few mix CDs with a couple of his songs on them – do you like nothing of his?

    Kristy — April 3, 2007 @ 8:21 pm

  • Kristy, there are a lot of people who don’t get John, no big, please don’t try to convert… please!

    John Mayer (John realy digs Brett’s music, realy!) and Michael Franti have given high profile props to Brett over the past year. So in return to all of the kind exsposure Brett has recieved from his peers, he has been giving props to another lesser known Cali artist, by the name of Sean Hayes. Do check this guy out! Made my Top 5 last year: http://www.seanhayesmusic.com

    also Heather, Brett’s going to be playing up in your neck of the woods this August with some pretty good talent:
    http://www.bluegrass.com/folks/lineup.html

    Kevin — April 3, 2007 @ 10:00 pm

  • Kevin – she’s my big sister. She’ll never give up trying to convert me to John Mayer. It’s ok, I love her anyways….

    ;)

    (Kris, you have to admit that article I linked to was HI-LARIOUS)…

    heather — April 3, 2007 @ 10:03 pm

  • Ummm No.
    No Brett Dennen for me thanks.

    coolusernameimplied — April 4, 2007 @ 6:11 am

  • More songs, a video and a few other links about Brett at my former blog

    Gray Charles — April 4, 2007 @ 7:52 am

  • Hey Heather — I might be stating someone too obvious and less than obscure, but this groovy Brett dude reminded me — in flashes — of Xavier Rudd (<–and that man is a one man band. Gongs, to lap slide, to drums and one of 3 didg’s (and more) all at once. super fun to see live.)

    Ali — April 4, 2007 @ 10:46 am

  • Heather, Many Thanks for making my days a little brighter with this fantastic blog of yours. Agree with Kevin…you have to check out Sean Hayes. He is a NC transplant to your beloved San Francisco. His voice is somewhat complicated and lyrics are magical. Saw Brett Dennen live a few mos back…another amazing talent…do catch his show when he comes your way in August!

    Anonymous — April 4, 2007 @ 11:21 am

  • I have to admit. I heard some of his music a few months ago but didn’t care for it. I like these songs though. So maybe you have chosen better songs of his. Or maybe, I just take everything you say as right and true and gave him a better listen than the first time. That is probably it–no pressure of course.

    Anonymous — April 5, 2007 @ 10:06 am

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

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