– Written by John Goodale for TMRZoo.com
‘Bonfire Confession’ is the first solo album by Canadian artist Brother Neil. The collection of 13 songs move through a variety of styling’s and pacing that keeps each track sounding distinct, while still maintaining an overall sound that identifies the artist.
Which is something that most artists strive for in their albums – give each song it’s own voice while trying to avoid making the songs sound so different from one and other that it sounds as though each one was written and recorded by different artists; a balance that Brother Neil has achieved in his cd Bonfire Confessions.
Each track has its own rhythm and groove, drawing from a wide range of topics taken straight from the pages of Neil’s dairy and his life as it happens around him.
The entire album is acoustic, and while that may be a popular trend right now, for Neil the all-acoustic sound felt like the right approach with his music for the natural blend he feels acoustic instruments have.
“There’s a special energy involved with sharing your own ideas and feelings through song that really can’t be as authentic sounding if you didn’t write and experience the things that went into the tune originally”
Music fans agree with Neil’s approach, and to date his album has received a great deal more attention (and praise) than he originally expected when he first started recording Bonfire Confessions.
“When I began writing I had no idea some of my journal entries would evolve into songs but once I had a couple songs complete I knew I wanted to do an album.” He said “Not for any other reason that to have something my kids could share with their kids a piece of what I was all about… I was going to send it to be pressed on vinyl (1 copy) and that was going to be that but somewhere along the way people became more interested than I had imagined.”
Radio interviews, both newspaper and web articles as well as constant bookings have shown the extent to which people are enjoying Neil’s music; something that still surprises him.
His live shows are well paced and relaxed. Neil jokes and easily interacts with the audience, without spending too much time between songs. And if you listen to his studio work before going to see him live you won’t be disappointed, all the energy and quality of each song is equal both live and on his disc. Although he does admit that he will vary the song slightly depending on who he’s performing with.
Neil said that he enjoyed the recording process and plans to return to the studio soon with an eye on a new release in 2016, and hopes to work more bluegrass influences into his music Now everything aside, how does the music sound? Since this is TMRZoo.com I’ll give it to you straight up, without all the fluffy words people seem to enjoy padding album reviews with.
Truthfully? His music is very good.
The entire disc is a solid work from the first to the last song that flows evenly from one song to the next, with enough variations to keep it from sounding dull but not so many that the music sounds disjointed.
This is one disc that most people won’t find themselves skipping songs on.
Throw it in, press play and just let it roll. Personally I enjoyed both the disc and his live show equally, and look forward to his next release.
But I’ll leave the final decision to you when you preview or purchase Brother Neil’s ‘Bonfire Confession’ from iTunesas well as finding out the latest from Brother Neil via his Official Website.
John Goodale is the author of ‘Johnny Gora’ (available through Amazon.com), and a number of articles here on TMRZoo.com. His monthly column ‘Indy Comics Spotlight’ appears here and through his blog Indy Comics Spotlight

A Barrie musician goes public for the first time with his own music. By Susan Doolan of The Barrie Examiner
Neil K. Parent is releasing his first CD, Bonfire Confessions, this month.
And it has been a long time coming.
“Sometimes you don’t have enough faith in yourself to go out and be a frontman with your own material,” said Parent, adding that it was his friends who encouraged him to make his own music. “I’ve always wanted music to be part of my life. I never knew there was a possibility of doing it for myself, as me.”
Parent has flirted with music most of his life and has achieved some success with it, but it has never been his career. One of his biggest successes was winning a $10,000 donation for Ronald McDonald House on the Global television series Canada Sings! in 2011. He was team captain for his group, Airborne 11, the name a nod to the airport where they worked.
“It was one of the highlights of my life. It was awesome,” said Parent, who also learned how to dance during the show.
Bonfire Confessions isn’t the first time he has been on a recording.
When his union put out a call for someone to update their archival labour songs, he signed on and ended up writing some new tunes, which were featured on a double CD recording Unionation.
While he was in Maryland working on this project with a group of other people, he met Cody Wilder, a country-blues musician from Nashville.
Back at home in Barrie, Parent was inspired to start writing songs for Wilder, which he would send to him, each adding a bit as the songs went back and forth. He was one of the people who encouraged Parent to record his own material.
That conference was also where the name Brother Neil originated. Parent recorded the album with the name.
Parent was already familiar with performing, although there was a rocky patch where he swore off singing for a while.
What brought him back was to it was a high-school teacher who persuaded him to audition for The Sound of Music. Parent did the show with his best friend from high school, Mike Whaling, who also shares a credit for one of the songs on Bonfire Confessions called Grown in the Shadows.
Whaling contributed vocals and guitar for the song as well as the guitar tracks for an instrumental titled Inside.
The album is a reflection of his life, the people he has met along the way as well as his musical influences. He wrote the lyrics for the song, Where Do I Go From Here, for his future wife before he asked her out for their first date.
Whatever the subject matter, he does like his songs to be positive.
“I’m a hopeless romantic. I write about love, and about life,” he said. “Every one of these songs has a story behind it, has something happened in my life.
Born in Kapuskasing, Parent spent most of elementary school years at St. Michael’s Choir School in Toronto, which is where he received most of his vocal training. He taught himself how to play the guitar can remember playing the organ by ear around the age of six.
Music was in his family. His mother played accordion and a grandfather was a big band drummer in northern Ontario.
When he was living in Newmarket, his neighbour was a jazz musician who played with Norman Amadio. Amadio played the piano at his sister’s wedding, seven years ago, and Parent sang a song with him on stage. That led to recording and doing shows together.
It was a dream come true for Parent because his grandfather had played the drums with Amadio in Timmins.
Parent also has performed with the a cappella group FATE, and the 10-piece Uptown Swing Band. He is known in jazz circles as Neil Kristian.
Bonfire Confessions is available at cdbaby.com, iTunes, Googleplay and Amazon. 

BROTHER NEIL – AWAY AVENUE AWAY

A Spill Exclusive Album Premiere

The new Brother Neil album ‘Away Avenue Away’ is an exploration into soul music, with a premium on vibe. Horns and subtle full band arrangements careen over the tunes, setting an impressive foundation for the classic songwriting. Each sound seems to elevate the full bodied vocals, taking you to a place of timeless nostalgia. Think Ray Charles without the frills. Roots and soul colliding. It’s a project that Neil laboured over with his childhood friend and music partner Mike Whaling for two years. The journey started and was completed at an old dance hall in Russeldale, Ontario that Mike had converted into a studio. There was talk that the building was haunted and psychics had even evaluated the space years before. The mediums had claimed to feel the spirits of a woman and a small child. One of the spirits names was Sarah. They agreed the hall should be called “Sarah’s Hall”. They felt welcome and comfortable in the space, and recorded most of the record in that great room. The natural acoustics created a remarkable atmosphere. A warmth that emulated the sound of classic soul recordings, with the effervescence and exploration of modern recordings. A perfect album to bask in the summer sun, as the lake breeze blows by.

Artist Quote

“After Mike (Whaling) bought the old dance hall in Russelldale and moved in, I drove up for a visit and on top of this warm and huge space there was this old piano here from the previous owner. Mike told me it had fallen down the steps. I loved its imperfections and we’d sit around it and play some old tunes we grew up with. We even decided to record a few to hone in on some of the new gears behavior as well as find some of the sweet spots at Sarah’s Hall.  One day I was chunking on that piano I realized I was really, really happy.  Being removed for awhile from the distractions and static of the city to make music in peace had done it.  The idea of moving back into the country plagued my brain. I wanted to share these moments it with my family immediately. I romanticized about it constantly. That was the initial inspiration for the title and the sentiment of the title track.The music was produced by Mike Whaling and Neil Parent. We hang out and play songs for fun all the time so having the Hall and gear right there to capture everything was a complete bonus. The recording experience was steady but not rushed.  We knew we wanted to put the time to do it right and not rely solely on any correction software. Everyone that played on it genuinely spoke about the vibe of the Hall and the honesty of the songs. You can hear it in their playing that this was fun and special. We had a  great time throughout the two year process!  Hope to capture that authenticity on more music in the future.

Music is such a personal thing when it comes to interpretation so if this album makes you feel, just physically feel an emotion or hope or maybe even love, we’ve made a connection. I wrote these songs with those things in my heart, about the lives we live and dream of living.  That look of love from your partner.  Unrequited past love.  The souls that brighten our lives for a short time.  The rut we can all get trapped in until something makes our minds scream.  The people that can help make it way better if you’ll let them in.  Or perhaps reach out to them the way I reached out to everyone that made this record not just a possibility but a dream come true.  I am so grateful to them all.”

The Greatful Web

Brother Neil‘s new album ‘Away Avenue Away’ is almost here. It’s a project that Neil labored over with his childhood friend and music partner Mike Whaling for two years. The journey started and was completed at an old dance hall in Russeldale, Ontario that Mike had converted into a studio. Russeldale is a town without a population, a perfect setting to build a studio free of distractions. There was talk that the building was haunted and psychics had even evaluated the space years before. The mediums had claimed to feel the spirits of a woman and a small child. One of the spirits names was Sarah. They agreed the hall should be called “Sarah’s Hall.” They felt welcome and comfortable in the space and recorded most of the record in that great room. The natural acoustics created a remarkable atmosphere.  A warmth that emulated the sound of classic soul recordings, with the effervescence and exploration of modern recordings. The classic sound envelopes first single ‘Off My Mind,’ creating a vibe that has one foot in the retro stylings of the past, while also creating a unique signature sound, that only this location with these players could create. 

Review by Canadian Beats Lizzie Sharpe:

Album: Away Avenue Away
Release Date: June 30, 2017
Download
Genre: Easy Listening

Toronto, ON singer/songwriter Brother Neil, has just dropped his newest album entitled Away Avenue Away. Brother Neil’s passion for his songwriting came in 2012 when he started writing songs for Cody Wilder. Through his experience with Cody, Brother Neil had lots of material to work with of his own and created his first album entitled Bonfire Confessions in 2014. Brother Neil’s newest album release Away Avenue Away was recorded with his best friend Mike in a building that is supposedly haunted by a woman and a little girl which is said to add more character for the album.

The song that first caught my attention was “Take a Seat.” It’s the second song on the album and is just a taste of what Brother Neil’s music style is. “Take  a Seat” is a very interesting song to listen to. I really enjoyed it and just sat back and listened to Brother Neil’s vocals  and lyrics. The other song that captured my interest was “Turn It Up”, which is the seventh song on the release. The song is beautifully written and had me hooked from the first listen. The song is very catchy and will have any listener dancing along as Brother Neil sings about turning up a song and staying positive. Away Avenue Away features 10 full length songs that all showcase Brother Neils’s love and dedication to his music and everything he creates. Overall, the album was good and really well put together. I have really enjoyed listening to this album. I will definitely be adding some songs onto my playlist. If you are looking for something new to listen to, Brother Neil is definitely an artist I would highly recommend.

Adam Carter CBC:

Brother Neil’s Off My Mind is from his upcoming album Away Avenue Away, and it’s exceptionally slinky, memorable jazz.

The horn section here is truly phenomenal, too. The best advice I can give is stop reading this sentence and just go listen to it.

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