The always bewitching mix of meandering acoustic plucking and aching brown-eyed soul is a winning combination no matter which way you spin it. Brother Neil has this craft nailed, and he takes his time letting listeners know it. Songs meander from Sunday-morning-love-confessional to spring-in-your-step adventure tunes. Expertly played, with uncommon chord changes to make it that much more exciting.
Shannon Duvall - Youbloom L.A 2016
In 2014 Brother Neil released his first album ‘Bonfire Confessions’ to a great deal of (well-deserved) critical acclaim.
Bonfire Confessions was a collection of acoustic songs (written from personal journals) that drew song subjects from his own life. While the album was entirely acoustic it wasn’t monotonous or dull, rather Brother Neil delivered an album of individual (sounding) songs that varied in pace and tone enough to keep the entire album interesting while maintaining his own sound.
Now in 2017 Brother Neil follows up that album with his new offering ‘Away Avenue Away…’, now available on iTunes.
While garnering as much attention (and acclaim) as ‘Bonfire Confessions’,’Away Avenue Away…’ is a change of direction in sound and pacing from his previous album.
While the new album is still acoustic, this time the songs feature horns, a more noticeable keyboard presence and a very noticeable jazz influence in some of the songs.
Still maintaining his own sound that connects the two albums, and song to song, Brother Neil brought a clean & varied sound to his songs on the new album.
Another change from the last album was developing each song from fresh ideas rather than using something he had previously worked on, (the journals used for songwriting on the previous album). The idea was approach each song as its own entity rather than being concerned with an overall sound.
Although the strong folk influence that was heard on the previous album is still threaded throughout the new album, some of the songs have a pop or jazz tone to them.
While the songs on the first album were solid, this time around Brother Neil delivers an album of very strong songs.
Each song not only stands on its own, but it is the tonal variety of each song and the pacing of the album gives the disc a great overall sound and flow that keeps you listening and anticipating the next song.
‘Away Avenue Away…’ is a dual success for both Brother Neil and long-time friend/collaborator Mike Whaling.
Recorded (in analogue) at Whaling’s Sarahs Hall, ( which you can find on Facebook)
While the production on ‘Bonfire Confessions’ was solid and professional, this time around Whaling has captured the energy and natural flow Brother Neil has in his live shows.
The result is a clean energetic sounding album that flows beautifully that sounds as though you are sitting in front of the Brother Neil as he performs his music.
You can purchase (and listen to samples) Brother Neils new album ‘Away Avenue Away…’ through this on iTunes.
WRITTEN BY JOHN GOODALE-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
“Switching styles is one thing - as Brother Neil does with ease and grace on "Bonfire Confessions". But in the end, it's the songs that count the most. And to these ears, the album is a feast of folk music. In the ideal world for which we long, young people with guitars will be singing these very songs around a camp fire in years to come.”
- Mark Rheaume, CBC Radio